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0^ Of P«'^o;^ 

.. Z. i- p ■H-7 



^ treatise 






r Professor of Old Testament Exegesis in Garrett Biblical Institute, 

K ■^^'P^— 





Copyright, 1883, by 


New York. 


" I ^HE design of the Editors and Publishers of the 
-^ Biblical and Theological Library is to furnish 
ministers and laymen with a series of works, which, 
in connection with the Commentaries now issuing, will 
make a compendious apparatus for study. While the 
theology of the volumes will be in harmony with the 
doctrinal standards of the Methodist Episcopal Church, 
the aim will be to make the entire Library acceptable 
to all evanorelical Christians. 

The following writers co-operate in the authorship 
of the series : Dr. Harman, on the " Introduction to 
the Study of the Holy Scriptures ; " Dr. Terry, on 
"Biblical Hermeneutics ;" the Editors, on "Theological 
Encyclopaedia and Methodology ; " Drs. Bennett and 
Whitney, on " Biblical, and Christian Archaeology ; " 
Dr. Latimer, on "Systematic Theology;" Dr. Ridgaway, 
on "Evidences of Christianity ; " Dr. Little, on "Chris- 
tian Theism and Modern Speculative Thought ;" Dr. 


Crooks, on the " History of Christian Doctrine ; '' and 
Bishop Hurst, on the " History of the Christian 

In the case of every treatise the latest literature will 
be consulted, and its results incorporated. The works 
comprised in the series will be printed in full octavo 
size, and finished in the best style of typography and 
binding. A copious index will accompany each vol- 
ume. All the volumes are in process of preparation, 
and will be issued as rapidly as is consistent with 


■ »>» ■ 

The cordial welcome with which the first edition of this work has 
heen received is evidence that a treatise of its character and scope 
is needed in our theological literature. The plan of the volume was 
largely suggested by what appear to be the practical wants of most 
theological students. Specialists in exegetical learning* will push 
their way through all difficulties, and find delight in testing prin- 
ciples ; but the ordinary student, if led at all into long-continued 
and successful searching of the Scriptures, must become interested 
in the practical work of exposition. The bare enunciation of prin- 
ciples, with brief references to texts in which they are exemplified, 
is too dry and taxing to the mind to develop a taste for exegetical 
study; it has a tendency rather to repel. In arranging the plan 'of 
the present treatise, it was accordingly designed from the outset to 
make it to a noticeable extent a thesaurus of interpretation. The 
statement of principles is introduced gradually, and abundantly 
illustrated and verified by means of those difficult parts of Scrip- 
ture in the real meaning of which most readers of the Bible are 
supposed to be interested. It cannot be expected that all our 
interpretations will command unqualified approval, but our choice 
of the more difficult Scriptures for examples of exposition will en- 
hance the value of the work, and save it from the danger, too 
common in such treatises, of running into lifeless platitudes. With 
ample illustrations of this kind before him, the student comes by a 
natural process to grasp hermeneutical principles, and learns by 
practice and example rather than by abstract precept. 

In order to make the work a complete manual for exegetical 
study, we have in Part First, under the head of Introduction to 
Biblical Hermeneutics, a comparative estimate of other sacred 
books, an outline of the character and structure of the biblical lau- 


guages, and two brief chapters on Textual Criticism and Inspiration. 
These topics are so connected with biblical interpretation, and some 
of them, esi^ecially a knowledge of the sacred tongues, lie so essen- 
tially at its basis, that our plan called for some such treatment as 
we have given them. The latest movements in the Higher Criti- 
cism approach the study of the Scriptures with the assumption that 
our sacred books and also the religion of Israel are nothing more 
than the sacred books and religions of other nations (Kuenen, Re- 
ligion of Israel, Eng. trans., vol. i, p. 5). The chapter on the sacred 
books of the nations exhibits the fallacy of such assumptions, and 
furnishes information which, being stored in many costly volumes, 
it is difficult to acquire. 

It should be observed, further, that Part Third is not a history of 
Hermeneutics, but of Interpretation. It is designed to be supple- 
mentary in its character, and somewhat of the nature of a bibliogra- 
phy of exegetics. The different methods of interpretation which 
have obtained currency or note are presented under the head of 
Pi-inciples (Part Second, chap, ii), but we have attempted no 
genetic history of Hermeneutics. In fact, no extended genetic de- 
velopment of hermeneutical principles is traceable in history. AVe 
find excellent examples of exegesis in the early Church, and execra- 
ble specimens of mystical and allegorical exposition put forth in 
modern times. History shows no succession of schools of interpre- 
tation, except in recent controversies, and these appear in con- 
nection with the varying methods of rationalistic assault, narrated 
in our chapters on the exegesis of the eighteenth and nineteenth 












Prelim inary. 

Hermeneutics defined, 17. 

General and Special Hermeneutics, 17. 

Old and New Testament Hermeneutics 
should not be separated, 18. 

Hermeneutics distinguished from Intro- 
duction, Criticism, and Exegesis, 19. 

Hermeneutics both a Science and an 
Art, 20. 

Necessity of Hermeneutics, 20, 21. 

Rank and importance of Hermeneutics 
in Theological Science, 21, 22. 

The Bible and other Sacred Books. 
. Knowledge of other Religious Litera- 
tures a valuable Preparation for her- 
meneutical Study, 23. 
;. Outline of the Christian Canon, 24. 
;. Contents and general character of other 

d) The a vest a, 25-28. 

(2) AssTRFAN Sacred Eecoeds, 28-33. 

(3) The Veda, ;M-39. 

(4) TnE Buddhist Canon, 40-45. 

(5) CniNESE Sacred Books, 46-52. 

(6) The Egyptian Book or the Dead, 53-57. 

(7) The Koran, 57-61. 

(8) The Eddas, 62-05. 

. Each of these books must be studied 

and judged as a whole, 66. 
. Notable Superiority of the Old and New 

Testament Scriptures, 67, 68. 

Languages of the Bible. 
1. Acquaintance with the Original Lan- 
guages of Scripture the basis of all 
sound Interpretation, 69. 

2. Origin and Growth of Languages: — 

(1) Various Theories of the Origin of Lan- 

guage, 69-71. 

(2) Origin probably supernatural, 71. 

(3) Confusion of Tongues at Babel, 71. 

(4) Formation of New Languages, 72. 

3. Families of Languages : — 

(1) Indo-European family, 73. 

(2) Scythian, 73. 

(3) Semitic, 74, 75. 

The Hebrew Language. 

1. Origin of the name Hebrew. 76, 77. 

2. Peculiarities of the Ilebivvv tongue* — 

(1) The Letters, 78. 

(2) The Vowel-system, 79, 80. 

(3) The Three-letter Root, 80. 

(4) Conjuarations of the Verb, 80-S2. 

(5) The two Tenses, 82-85. 

(6) Gender and Number of Nouns, 86. 

(7) Simplicity of Structure, 87. 

(8) Omission of Copula, 88. 

(!t) Order of Subject and Predicat'% 83. 
(10) Adjectives and Particles, 8d, 89. 

3. Hebuew Poetry: — 

(1) Old Testament largely poetical, 90. 

(2) Parallelism tlie distinguishing feature, 91. 

(3) Form essential to Poetry, 92-94. 

(4) Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, 94. 

(5) Structure of Hebrew Parallelism, 05-98. 

1. SynoDymnns Pnrallclisiii. 9G. 

2. AntithVtic P.Trallplism. 97. 

3. Syntlietic Pnrallelisin. 9", 9S. 

4. IrrofTuIar Structure, 99. 

(6) Alphabetical Poems and Rhymes, 100. 

(7) Vividness of Hebrew expressions. 101. 

(8) Elliptical modes of expression, 102. 

(9) Old Testament Anthropomorphism, 103. 

4. Remarkable uniformity of the Hebrew 

Language, 104. 

5. Three Periods of Hebrew Literature, 

104, 105. 

6. Hebrew Language peculiarly adapted to 

embody God's ancient Word, 1 ( '5, 1 06. 

7. Its analogy with the Holy Land, ioO. 


The Chaldee Language. 

1. Eastern and Western Aramaic, 107. 

2. Biblical Aramaic appropriately called 

Chaldee, 107. 

3. Early traces of Chalda^an speech, 108. 

4. The Chaldee passages of Daniel, 109. 

5. The Chaldee pas.sages of Ezra, 109, 110. 

6. Grammatical peculiarities of the Bibli- 

cal Chaldee, 111. 

7. Foreign words, 112. 

8. Historical and Apologetical value of the 

Chaldee portions of the Bible, 113. 

The Greek Language. 

1. Greek an Indo-European tongue, 114. 

2. Language and Civilization affected by 

climate and natural scenery, 114. 

3. Greeks called Hellenes, 115. 

4. Tribes and Dialects, 115. 

5. Ionic Greek, 116. 

6. Attic culture and taste, 116. 

7. Decay of Attic elegance, 116, 117. 

8. The later Attic or Common Dialect, 117. 

9. Alexandrian culture, 118. 

10. The Hellenists, 118. 

11. Christian thought affecting Greek 

speech, 119. 

12. Controversy between Purists and He- 

braists, 119. 

13. Sources of Information, 120. 

14. Peculiarities of Hellenistic Greek : — 

(1) Foreign words, 121. 

(2) Peculiar orthography, 121. 

(3) Flexion of Nouns and Verbs, 121. 

(4) Heterogeneous Nouns, 123. 

(5) New and peculiar forms of words, 122. 
(0) Old dialects and new words, 122. 

(7) New significations of words, 123. 

(8) Hebraisms:— 

1. In words, 125. 

2. In foims of expression, 125. 

3. In grammatical construction, 125. 

15. Varieties of Style among New Testa- 

ment writers, 126. 

16. Greek the most appropriate Language 

for the Christian Scriptures, 127. 

17. The three Sacred Tongues compared, 


Textual Criticism. 

1. Higher and Lower Criticism distin- 

guished, 129. 

2. Interpretation often involves Textual 

Critici.'^m, 129. 

3. Causes of Vaiious Readings, 130. 

4. Sources and Jleans of Textual Criti- 

cism, ISO, 131. 

5. Canons of Textual Criticism : — 

(1) KxTKi-.NAi, F.viDKNOK, FouT Ilules, 1.32, 133. 

(2) Intkrnai, KviDKNCK. Four lUilc'S, 133-13G. 

6. These Canons are Principles rather than 

Rules, 136. 

The Divine Inspiration of the Bible. 

1. Inspiration of Genius, 137. 

2. Scripture Inspiration superior, 137. 

3. Divine and Human in the Scrijitures, 



(1) In Narration of historical facts, 138. 

(2) In Style and Diction, 139. 

(3) In Subject-matter, 130. 

(4) In varying Forms of statement, 139. 

B. EviDKNCKS OF THE DiviNE Eleme.nt; — 

(1) In declarations of Paul and Peter, 140. 

(2) In Old Testament claims, 141. 

(3) In Jesus' words, 141. 

4. Three important considerations : — 

(1) The whole Bible God's Book for man, 


(2) Inspiration and Revelation are to be dis- 

tinguished, 142. 

(3) Inspiration a Particular Divine Provi- 

dence, 143. 

5. Divine Inspiration affects Language 

and Style, 144. 

6. Four kinds of Inspiration, 145. 

7. Facts and ideas expressible in a vari- 

ety of forms, 145. 

8. Fallacy of trifling with minute details, 

145," 146. 

9. No conflict between the Divine and 

Human, 146. 

10. Verbal Variations no valid Argument 

against Divine Inspiration, 147. 

11. Various Readings no valid Argument 

against the verbal Inspiration of the 
original Autographs, 148. 

12. Inaccurate grammar and obscuiity of 

style no valid Objection, 149 

13. Error in Stephen's Address (Acts 

vii, 16), 149, 150. 

14. Quotation from Tayler Lewis, 150. 

Qualifications of an Interpreter. 

1. Intellectual Qualifications: — 

(1) A sound, well-balanced Mind, 151. 

(2) Quick and clear Perception, 151. 

(3) Acuteness of Intellect (Beugcl and De 

Wette), 152. 

(4) Imagination needed, but must be con- 

trolled, 152. 

(5) Sober Judgment, 153. 

(()) Correctness and delicacy of Taste, 153. 

(7) Right use of Reason, 153. 

(8) Aptness to teach, 154. 

2. Educational Qualifications: — 
Familiar acquaintance with Geography, His- 
tory, Chronology, Antiquities, Polit;<'s, 
Natural Science. Philosophy, Comparative 
Philology, and General Literature should 
be acquired, 154, 155. 

3. S|)iritual (Qualifications: — 

(1) Partly a gift, partly ac(iuired, 150. 
(•J) Desire to know the Trutb, 1.50. 

(3) Tender alTection, 157. 

(4) Eiitliusiasm for the Word of God, 157. 

(5) Reverence for (iod, 157. 

(ti) Connnunion and Fellow.ship with the Holy 
Spirit, 157, 158. 





1. Hermeneutical Principles defir.ed, 161. 

2. Importance of Sound Principles, 161. 

3. True Method of determining Sound Prin- 

ciples, 162. 

4. Ennobling Tendency of hermeneutical 

Study, 162. 

Different Methods of Interpretation. 

1. Allegorical Interpretation(Philo, Clem- 

ent), 163. 

2. Mystical Interpretation (Origen, Mau- 

rus, Swedenborg), 164, 165. 

3. Pietistic Interpretation (Quakers), 165, 


4. The Accommodation-Theory (Semler), 


5. Moral Interpretation (Kant), 16V. 

6. Naturalistic Interpretation (Paulus), 

1. The Mythical Theory (Strauss), 168- 

8. Other Rationalistic Theories (Baur, 

Renan), 170, 171. 

9. Apologetic and Dogmatic Methods, 

171, 172. 
, 10. Grammatico-Historical Interpretation, 

(1) The Bible to be interpreted like other 

books, 1~3. 

(2) Principles of Interpretation grounded in 

the Rational Nature of mau, 173, 174. 

(3) The Bible, however, a peculiar book, 174. 


The Primary Meaning of Words. 

1. Words the Elements of Language, 175. 

2. Value and Pleasure of etymological 
■ studies, 175, 176. 

(1) Illustrated by the word tKKT^rjala, 

176, 177. 

(2) Illustrated by the word 123, 177, 


3. Value of Comparative Philology, 178. 

4. Rare words and u-rta^ leynnevn, 179. 

5. Determining sense of Compound words, 


The Usus Loquendi. 

1. How the meaning of words becomes 

changed, 181. 

2. Importance of attending to Usus Lo- 

quendi, 181. 

3. Means of ascertaining the Usus Lo' 

quendi : — 

(1) By the writer's own Deflnitions, 181. 

(2) By the iuiruediate (Jonte.xt, 182. 

(3) By the Nature of the Subject, laS. 

(4) By Antithesis or Contrast, 184. 

(5) By Hebraic Parallelisms, 185. 

(6) By relations of Subject, Predicate, 

Adjuncts, 180. 

(7) By comparison of Parallel Passages, 186. 

(8) By common and familiar Usage, 187. 

(9) By the help of Ancient Versions, 188, 189. 
(10) By Ancient (jlossaries and Scholia, 190. 


1. Some words have many Meanings, lyi. 

2. Many different words have like xMeau- 

ing, 191. 

3. Seven Hebrew words for Putting to 

Death, 192-194. 

4. Twelve Hebrew words for Sin, or Evil, 


5. Synonymes of the New Testament : — 

(1) KatvoQ and veo^, 198. 

(2) Bwf and ^of), 199. 

(3) 'AyrtTTuw and 0i/lew, 200. 

(4) OlSa and ytvijaKG), 201. 

(5) ^Apvia, npi);3aTa, and -irpojiuTia, 2nl. 

(6) Boff/cu and Triufian>u, 20 1, 202. 


The Grammatico-historical Sense. 

1. Grammatico-historical Sense defined, ; 

Quotation from Davidson, 203, '204 
General Principles and Method? 

certaining the Grammatico-his 

Sense, 204, 205. 
Words and Sentences can have but one 

Meaning in one place, 205. 
Narratives of Miracles to be understood 

literally, 205. 
Jephthah's daughter a Burnt-offering, 

Jesus' Resurrection a literal historical 

Fact, 207, 208. 
Grammatical Accuracy of the New Tes- 
tament, 208. 
Significance of the Greek Tenses, 208, 



* Context, Scope, and Plan. 
Context, Scope, and Plan defined, 210. 
The Scope of some Books formally an- 
nounced, 211. 

Plan and Scope of Genesis seen in its 
Contents and Structure, 211, 212. 

Is oi' as-\ 

listo.'L'al ) 


4. Plan and Scope oi' the Book of Exodus, 

212, 218. 

5. Subject and Plan of the Epistle to the 

Romans, 213, 214. 

6. The Context, near and remote : — 

(1) Illustrated by Isa. lii, 13-liii, 13, 214, 215. 

(2) lllustrateil by Matt, xi, 12, 21.V218. 

(3) Illustrated by Gal. v, 4, 218, 219. 

'7. The Connexion nuiy be Historical, Dog- 
matical, Logical, or Psychological, 

S. Importance of studying Context, Scope, 
and Plan, 2ly. 

9. Critical Tact and Ability needed, 220. 

Comparison of Parallel Passages. 

1. Some Passages of Scripture without 

logical connexion, 221. 

2. Value of Parallel Passages, 221. 

3. The Bible a Self-interpreting Book, 222. 

4. Parallels Verbal and Real, 223. 

5. All Parallels must have real Correspon- 

dency, 223. 

6. The word Hate in Luke xiv, 26, ex- 

plained by Parallel Passages, 224, 225. 

7. Jesus' words to Peter in Matt, xvi, 18, 

explained by Parallel Texts, 225-229. 

8. Large portions of Scripture parallel, 230. 

The Historical Standpoint. 
Importance of knowing the Historical 

Standpoint of a writer, 231. 
Historical Knowledge essential, 231. 
Difficulty of transferring one's self into 
a remote age, 232. 

4. Personal sanctity of ancient Worthies 

often unduly exalted, 232. 

5. Historical Occasions of the Psalms, 

233, 234. 

6. Places as well as Times to be studied : — 

(1) Shown by Journevs and Epistles of Paul, 

235, 236. 

(2) Historical and (?eoj]rraphioal Accuracy of 

Scripture proven by careful Research, 
230, 237. 

7. The Historical Standpoint of the Apoc- 

alyijse :— 

(1) External Evidence dependent solely on 

Ireiiajus, 237, 238. 

(2) .lohn's own Testimony (Rev. i, 9). 239. 
0) Internal Evidence. Six Points. 240, 241. 
(4) (ircat delicacy of Discrimination neces- 
sary, 242. 

?^.^ Questions of Historical Criticism in- 
volved, 242. 

Figurative Language. 

1. Tropes many and various, 243. 

2. Origin and Necessity of Figurative Lan- 

guage, 243, 244. 

3. Figures of Sjieech suggestive of Divine 

Harmonies, 244, 240. 

4. Principal Sources of Scriptural Ima- 

gery, 246, 247. 

5. Specific rules for determining when 

Language is Figurative are imprac- 
ticable and unnecessary, 247. 

6. Figures of Words and Figures of 

Thought, 248. 

7. Metonymv : — 

(1) Of Cause and Effect, 248. 

(2) Of Subject and Adjunct, 249. 

(3) Of tbe 8ign and tiie Thing Signlfled, 250. 

8. Synecdoche, 250. 

9. Personification, 251. 

10. Apostrophe, 252. 

11. Interrogation, 252. 

12. Hyperbole, 253. 

13. Irony, 253. 

Simile and Metaphor. 

1. Simile defined and illustrated, 254. 

2. Crowding of Similes together, 255. 

3. Similes self-interpreting, 255. 

4. Pleasure afforded by Similes, 256. 

5. Assumed Comparisons or Illustrations, 

G. Metaphor defined and illustrated, 258. 

7. Sources of Scriptural Metaphors : — 

(1) Natural Scenery, 259. 

(2) Ancient Customs, 259. 

(3) Habits of Animals, 259, 260. 

(4) Ritual Ceremonies, 260. 

8. Elaborated and Mixed Metaphors, 261. 

9. Uncertain Metai)horical Allusions : — 

(1) Loosing of locks (Judges v, 2). 252, 203. 

(2) Boiling heart (Psa. xlv, 1), 263. 

(3) Buried in Baptism i,Kum. vi, 4 ; Col. li, 12), 

263, 264. 

Fables, Riddles, and Enigmas. 

1. Of the more notable Tropes of Scrip- 

ture, 265. 

2. Characteristics of the Fable, 265. 

(1) Jotham's Fable, 266. 

(2) Jehoasli's Fable, 266, 267. 

3. Characteristics of the Riddle, 268. 

(1) Samson's Riddle, 268. , 

(2) Number of the Beast (Rev. xiii, 18), 269. 

(3) Obscure Proverbs, 269. 

(4) Lainech's Song, 270. 

4. Enigma distiuguislied and defined, 270, 

(!) Enigmatical element in Jesus' discourse 
with Nicodennis, 271. 

(2) In bis discourse witli the Samaritan wom- 

an, 272. 

(3) Enigma of tlie Sword in Luke xxii, 36, 27.!. 

(4) Enigmatical language addressed to Peter 

in John xxi, '8, 273. 

(5) Figure of the Two Eagles in Ezek. xvii, 

274, 275. 

Interpretation of Parables. 

1. Pre-eminence of Parabolic Teaching, 


2. The Parable defined, 276, 277. 


3. General Use of Parables, 277. 

4. Special Reason and Purpose of Jesus' 

Parables, 278, 279. 

5. Parables serve to test Character, 280. 
■6. Superior beauty of Scripture Parables, 


T. Three essential elements of a Parable, 

S. Three principal Rules for the Inter- 
pretation of Parables, 281, 282. 

9. Principles illustrated in the Parable 
of the Sower, 282. 

10. Parable of the Tares, and its Interpre- 

tation, 283. 
(1) Things explained and things unnoticed 

in the model Expositions of Jesus, 384. 
(8) We may notice some things which Jesus 

did not emphasize, 884, 885. 

(3) Suggestive Words and Allusions deserve 

attention and comment, 885. 

(4) Not specific Rules, but sound and dis- 

criminating Judgment, must guide the 
Interpreter, 386. 

11. Isaiah's Parable of the Vineyard, 287. 

12. Parable of the Wicked Husbandman, 

18. Comparison of analogous Parables, 
(1) Marriage of King's Son and Wicked Hus- 
bandman, 88'J, 890. 
(3) Marriage of King's Son and Great Sup- 
per, 890, 891. 

14. Old Testament Parables, 292. 

15. All the Parables of Jesus in the Syn- 

optic Gospels, 293. 

16. Parable of the Labourers in the Vine- 

yard: — 
(1) Mistakes of Interpreters, 894. 
(3) Occasion and Scope, 394, 395. 

(3) Prominent Points in the Parable, 296. 

(4) The Parable primarily an Admonition to 

the Disciples, 396, 897. 

17. Parable of the Unjust Steward : — 
(1) Occasion and Aim, 39". 

(3) Unauthorized Additions, 398. 

(3) Jesus' own Application, 898. 

(4) The Rich Man to be understood as Mam- 

mon, 300. 

(5) (Jeikie's Comment, 801. 

Interpretation of Allegories. 

1. Allegory to be distinguished from Par- 

able, 302. 

2. Allegory a continued Metaphor, 202, 


3. Same hermeneutical Principles apply to 

Allegories as to Parables, 304. 

4. Illustrated by Prov. v, 15-18: — 
(1) Main Purpose to be first sought, .304. 

(3) Particular Allusions to be studied in the 
light of Main Purpose, 305, 306. 

5. Allegory of Old AgeinEccles. xii,3-7: — 
(1) Various Interpretations, 306. 

(3) The old age of a Sensualist, 307. 

(3) Uncertain Allusions, 307. 

(4) Blending of Meaning and Imagery, 308. 

(5) The Hermeneutical Principles to be kept 

in \iew, 309. 

6. Allegory of False Prophets in Ezek. 

xiii, 10-15. 

7. Allegory of 1 Cor. iii, 10-15:— 

(1) Are the materials Persons or Doctrines? 

(8) Both views allowable, 311, 318. 

(3) The Passage paraphrased, 313. 

(4) A Warning rather than a Piophecy, 313, 


8. Allegory of 1 Cor. v, 6-8 :— 
(1) The Context, 315. 

(8) The Passage paraphrased, 315. 
(3) The more important Allusions to be care- 
fully studied, 316. 

9. Allegory of the Christian Armour 

(Eph. vi), 316. 

10. Allegory of the Door and the Good 

Shepherd, (John x): — 

(1) Occasion and Scope, 317. 

(2) Import of particular parts, 31S. 

(3) Jesus' Explanation enigmatical, 319, 330. 

11. Paul's Allegory of the Covenants: — 
(1) It is Peculiar and Exceptional, 381. 

(8) The historical Facts are accepted as true, 

(3) The Correspondent Clauses, 338. 

(4) Paul's example as Authority in Allego- 

rizing Scripture narratives, 388, 38:1 

(5) Such methods to be avoided, or used most 

sparingly, 384. 

12. Interpretation of Canticles: — 
(1) Allegorical Methods, .384, 335. 

(3) Objections to the Allegorical Method, 325. 
(■3) Canticles a Dramatic Parable, 386. 

(4) A literal basis under oriental Poetry, 327. 

(5) Details not to be pressed into mystic Sig- 

nificance, 387. 

Proverbs and Gnomic Poetry. 

1. Proverbs defined and described, 328, 


2. Their Use among most ancient Nations, 


3. Hermeneutical Principles to be ob- 

served : — 
(1) Discrimination of Form and Figure, 330. 
(8) Critical and Practical Sagacity, 331. 

(3) Attention to Context and Parallelism, 332. 

(4) Common Sense and sound Judgment, 333, 


Interpretation of Types. 

1. Types and Symbols Defined and Dis- 

tinguished :— 

(1) Crabb's Definition, 334. 

(2) Examples of Types and Symbols, .3:i4. 

(3) Analogy with certain Figures of Speech, 


(4) Principal Distinction between Types and 

Symbols, 336. 

2. Essential Characteristics of the Type : — 

(1) Notable Points of Resemblance between 

Type and thing typified, 337. 

(2) Must be Divinely Appointed, .337. 

(3) Must prefigure something Futin-e, 338. 

3. Classes of Old Testament Types : — 
(1) Typical Persons, 3:38. 

(3) Typical Institutions, 339. 
(3i Tvpical Offlc(--<, 3:i<). 

(4) Typical Events, 339. 

(5) Typical Actions, 339 340. 



4. Hermeneutical principles to be ob- 

served : — 

(1) All real Points of Resemblance to be 

noted : — 

1. The Brazen Serpent (Num. xxi, 4-9), 341. 

2. Melchizedek and Christ (lleb. vii), 342. 

(2) Notable Differences and Contrasts to be 

observed :— 

1. Moses and Christ (Ileb. iii, 1-6), 343. 

2. Adam and Christ (Rom. v, 12--il), 343. 

5. Old Testament Types fully apprehended 

only by the Gospel revelation, 344. 

6. Limitation of Types : — 

(1) Bishop Marsh's" Statement, 345. 

(2) Too restrictive a Principle, 345. 

(3) A broader Principle allowable, 346. 

(4) Qualifying Observation, 34U. 


Interpretation of Symbols. 

1. Difficulties of the Subject, .347. 

2. Principles and Methods of procedure, 


3. Classification of Symbols, 347, 348. 

4. Examples of Visional Symbols : — 
(1) The Almond Rod (Jer. i.'ll), 348. 
(a) The Seething Pot (Jer. i, 13), 349. 

(3) The Good and Bad Figs (Jer. xxiv), 


(4) The Summer Fruit (Amos viii, 1), 349. 

(5) Resurrection of Dry Bones (Ezek.xxxvil), 


(6) The Golden Candlestick, 350. 

(7) The Two Olive Trees (Zech. iv), 350, 

351 . 

(8) The Great Image of Nebuchadnezzar's 

Dream (Dan. ii), 352. 

(9) The Four Beasts of Dan. vii, .353. 

(10) Riders, Horns, and Smiths of Zech.i, 353, 


(11) The Flying Roll and Ephah (Zech. v), 351, 


(12) The Four Chariots (Zech. vi), 355. 

5. The above Examples, largely explained 

by the Sacred Writers, authorize 
three fundamental Principles : — 

(1) The Names of Symbols are to be under- 

stood literally," 356. 

(2) Symbols always denote something differ- 

ent from themselves, 356. 

(3) A Resemblance, more or less minute, is 

always traceable between Symbol and 
thing Symbolized, 356. 

6. No minute set of Hermeneutical Rules 

practicable, 356. 

7. Three general Principles all-import- 

ant : — 

(1) A stiict regard to the Historical Stand- 

point of the Writer or Prophet, 2.57. 

(2) Like regard to Scope and Cont(ixt, 257. 

(3) Like r(>gard to Analogy and Import of 

similar Symbols and Figures cUicvhere 
used, 2.57. 

8. Fairbairn's Statement of general Prin- 

ciples : — 

(1) The Image must be contemplated in its 

broader Aspects, 3.57. 

(2) Uniform and consistent Manner of In- 

terpretation, 1357. 

9. Same Principles for explaining Mate- 

rial Symbols, 357. 
10. The Svmbolism of Blood, 358. 

U. The Symbolism of the Tabernacle: — 

(1) Names of the Tabernacle and their Sig- 

nificance, 359. 

(2) A Divine-human Relationship symbol- 

ized, 360, 361. 

(3) The Two Apartments, .361. 

A. The Most Holv Place and its Sym- 

bols: — 

1. The Aik, 361,. 362. 

2. Tlie Capporoth or Mercvseat. 3C2. 

3. The Cherubim, 30-.'. A&i. 

B. The Holy Place and its Symuols: — 

1. The Talile ofSliowbiead. 364. 

2. Tlic Golden Candlestick. 364. 

3. Tlie Altjir of Incense. 365. 

(4) Great Altar and Laver in the Court, 365. 

(5) Symbolico-typical Action of High Priest, 

366, ;:!(i7. 

(6) Graduated Sanctity of the Holy Places, 

367, 368. 

Symbolico-Typical Actions. 

1. Acts performed in Visions, 3(50. 

2. Symbolico-typical Acts of Ezekiel iv 

and v : — 

(1) The Actions Outward and Real, 370, 371. 

(2) Five Objections considered, 371, 372. 

3. Hosea's Symbolical Marriages : — 

(1) The Language implies a Real Event, 373, 

(2) Supposed Impossibility based on JUsap- 

prehension of Scope and Import, 374. 

(3) The names Gomer and Diblaim not Sym- 

bolical, 375. 

(4) Hengstenberg's Unwarrantable Asser- 

tions, 375. 

(5) The Facts as Stated not unsupposable, 376. 

(6) Scope of the Passage indicated, 377. 

(7) The Symbolical Names (Jezreel, Lo-ru- 

hamah, and Lo-ammi), 377. 

(8) The Prophet's second Marriage to be 

similarly explained, 378, 379. 

4. Our Lord's Miracles Symbolical, 379. 

Symbolical Numbers, Names, and Colours. 

L Process of ascertaining the Symbolism 
of Numbers, 380. 

2. Significance of Three, Four, Seven, 

Ten, and Twelve, 380, 383. 

3. Symbolical does not always exclude 

literal sense of Numbers, 384. 

4. Time, Times, and Half-a-Time, 384. 

5. Forty-two Months, 384. 

6. The Numbers Forty and Sc\ cnty, 385. 

7. Prophetic Designations of Time, 383. 

8. The Year-Day Theory :— 

(1) Has no support in Num. xiv and Ezek. iv, 

aS6, 387. 

(2) Not sustained by Prophetic Analogy, 387, 


(3) Daniel's Seventy Weeks not parallel, 3S8. 

(4) Days nowhere properly mean Years, 388. 

(5) Disproved bv repeated failures in Inter- 

pretation, "389, :W0. 

9. The Thousand Years of Rev. xx, 390. 
10. Symbolical Names : — 

(1) 'Sodora and Egypt, 391. 

(2) Babylon and Jerusalem, 391. 

(3) Returning to Egypt, 392. 

(4) David and Elijah, 392. 
(.5) Ariel, 392. 

(6) Leviattian, 392. 


11. Symbolism of Colours: — 

(1) Rainbow and Tabernaclw Colours, 393. 

(2) Import of Colours inferred from their 

Associations :— 

1. Blue and its Associations, 393. 

2. Purple and Scarlet, 393, 394. 

3. White as symbol of Purity, 394. 

4. Black and Red, 394. 

12. Symbolical Import of Metals and Jew- 

els, 395. 


Dreams and Prophetic Ecstasy. 

1. Methods of Divine Revelation, 396. 

2. 'the Dreams of Scripture, 396, 397. 

3. Dreams evince latent Powers of the 

Soul, 397. 

4. Jacob's Dream at Bethel, 397, 398. 

5. Repetition of Dreams and Visions, 398, 


6. Prophetic or Visional Ecstasy : — 

(1) David's Messianic Revelations, 399. 

(2) Ezelclel's visional Rapture, 400. 

(3) Other Examples of Ecstasy, 400, 401. 

(4) The Prophet impersonating God, 403. 

*!. New Testament Glossolaly, or Speaking 
with Tongues : — 

(1) The Facts as recorded, 402, 403. 

(2) The Pentecostal Glossolaly symbolical, 


(3) A mysterious Exhibition of Soul-powers, 



Prophecy and its Interpretation. 

1. Magnitude and Scope of Scripture 

Prophecy, 405. 

2. Prophecy not merely Prediction but 

Utterance of God's Truth, 406. 

3. Only Prophecies of the Future require 

special Hermeneutics, 407. 

4. History and Prediction should not be 

Confused, 407. 

5. Organic Relations of Prophecy : — 

(1) Progressive Character of Messianic Proph- 

ecy, 408. 

(2) Repetition of Oracles against Heathen 

Powers, 409. 

(3) Daniel's Two Great Prophecies (chaps, ii 

and vii) compared, 409, 410. 

(4) The Little Horn of Dan. vii, 8, and viii, 9, 

the same Power under dilTerent As- 
pects, 410. 

(5) Other Prophetic Repetitions, 411. 

6. Figurative and Symbolical Style of 

Prophecy : — 

(1) Imagery the most natural Form of ex- 

pressing Revelations obtained by Vis- 
ions and Dreams, 412. 

1. Illustrated by Gen. iii. 15. 412. 

2. Pairbairn on the Passajre, 413. 

(2) Poetic Form and Style of several Proph- 

ecies instanced, 413. 

1. Isaiah xiii. 2-13 quoted. 414, 

2. Refers to the Overthrow of Babylon. 414, 


(3) Prominence of Symbols in the Apocalyptic 

Books, 415. 

(4) The Hermeneutical Principles to be ob- 

served, 415. 

7. Analysis and Comparison of Similar 
Prophecies : — 

(1) Verbal Analogies, 416. 

(2) Double Form of Apocalyptic Visions, 416. 

(3) Analogies of Imagery, 417. 

(4) Like Imagery applied to Different Ob- 

jects, 417. 

(5) General Summary, 418. 

Daniel's Vision of the Four Empires. 

1. Value of Daniel's Twofold Revelation 

in illustrating Hermeneutical Prin- 
ciples, 418. 

2. Three different Interpretations, 41i>. 

3. Arguments for the Roman Tiieory con- 

sidered, 420, 421. 

4. Subjective Presumptions must be set 

aside, 421. 

5. Daniel's Historical Stand[;oint, 422. 

6. Prominence of the Modes, 422. 

7. The Varied but parallel Descriptions, 

422, 423. 

8. The Prophet should be allowed to ex- 

plain himself, 423, 424. 

9. The Prophet's Point of View in Dan. 

viii, 424. 

10. Inner Harmonv of all the Visions, 424, 


11. Alexander's Kingdom and that of his 

Successors not two different World- 

Powers, 425, 426. 
13. Conclusion: A Median World-Power 

to be recognised as succeeding the 

Babylonian, 426. 
13. Each Book of Prophecy to be studied 

as a Whole, 426. 

Old Testament Apocalyptics. 

1. Biblical Apocalyptics defined, 427. 

2. Same Hermeneutical Principles required 

as in other Prophecy, 428. 

3. The Revelation of Joel : — 

(1) Joel the oldest formal Apocalypse, 428. 

(2) Analysis of Joel's Prophecy, 429-431. 

4. Ezekiel's Visions : — 

(1) Peculiarities of Ezekiel, 432. 

(2) Analysis of Ezekiel's Prophecies, 432-437. 

5. The Artistic Structure to be Studied, 


The Gospel Apocalypse. 

1. Occasion of Jesus' Apocalyptic Dis- 

course (Matt, xxiv), 438. 

2. Various Opinions, 438, 439. 

3. Lange's Analysis, 439, 44(i. 

4. The Question of the Disciples, 440. 

5. Meaning of the End of the Age, 441. 

6. Analysis of Matt, xxiv, xxv. 442, 343. 

7. Time-Limitation of the Prophecy, 443. 
S. Import of Matt, xxiv, 14, 444. 

9. Import of Luke xxi, 24, 445. 



10. Import of Matt, xxiv, 20-31 :— 

(1) Literal Sense as urged by many Exposi- 

tors, 445. 

(2) Analogous Prophecies compared, 440. 

(3; Language of Matt, xxiv, 30, taken from 
L>au. vli, 13, 446, 447. 

(4) The Facts of Matt, xxiv, 31, not neces- 

sarily visible to human ej'es, 447, 448. 

(5) Import of tit^ewf, immediately (verse 

~'i)), 448. 

11. The Judgment of the Nations (Matt. 

XXV, y 1-4(3):— 
(1) The Scripture Doctrine of Judgment, 449. 
(i) Not limited to one Last Day, 4o0. 

(3) A Divine Procedure which begins with 

Christ's Enthronement, and must con- 
tinue until he delivers up the Kingdom 
to the Father, 450. 

12. The Parousia coincident witli the Ruiu 

of the Temple and the End of the 
Pre-Messiauic Age, 450, 451. 

IS. Thi.s Interpretation harmonizes all the 
New Testament Declarations of the 
Nearness of the Parousia, 452. 

14. No valid Objections, 453. 

The Pauline Eschatology. 

1. Import of 1 Thess. iv, 13-17:— 

(1) Literal Translation, 4.54. 

(2) Four Things clearly expressed, 454. 

(3) Iniport of we. tite Uruiu, wlio remain :— 

1. A ic'Wis ot'Luneiiiann and Alford, 455. 

2. View of Ellicott. 456. 

3. The Two Opinions compHred, 45C. 

4. Tiie words imply an Expectation of a 

Speedy Coming of the Lord, 450. 

5. The Hxegctical Dilemma, 45T. 

G. The Apostle's doctrine based on most em- 
phatic Statements of Jesus, 457, 45S. 

2. All here described may have occurred 

in Paul's generation, 458. 

3. Not contradicted by 2 Thess. ii, 1-9, 


4. The Apostasy an event of that gen- 

eration, 4(10. 

6. The Man of Sin described in language 
appropriated from Daniel's Proph- 
ecy of Antiochus Epiphanes, 460. 

f). The Prophecy fulfillecl in Nero: — 

(1) Nero a revelation of Antichrist, 460. 

(2) The Language not unsuitable to the 

Death of Nero, 460. 

(3) Equivalent to Language of Dan. vii, 11, 


(4) Nero's Relations to Judaism and Chris- 

tianity, 403. 
1. Import of 1 Cor. xv, 20-28, 462, 463. 

8. Import of Phil, iii, 10, H, 464. 

9. Import of Luke xx, 35, 464. 

10. Import of John v, 24-29, 464, 465. 

The Apocalypse of John. 

1. Systems of Interpretation, 466. 

2. Historical Standpoint of the Writer, 

4 (;(•>, 407. 

3. Plan of tlu' Apocalypse, 467. 

4. Aitilicial Form of the Apocalypse, 408. 

I. The Great Theme is announced (chap, 
i, 7) in the language of Matt, xxiv, 30, 

I. Part I. Revelation of the Lamb: — 

(1) In the Epistles to the Seven Churches, 469. 

(2) By the Opening of the Seven Seals, 46'.', 

1. The Martyr Scene (vi. 9, 10). 470. 

2. The Sixth Sial (vi. l'J-17), 4Tl>. 

3. Striking Analogies of Jesus' Words, 470, 

(3) Byj,he Sounding of the Seven Trumpets, 


1. The Plague from the Abyss, 471. 472. 

2. The Annies of the Enjihiates. 472. 

3. The Miglity Aiigel arrayed with Clou.i 
and Lain bow, 473. 

4. The Last Trumjiet, 474. 
'. Part II. Revelatio.n ok the Bride: — 

(1) Vision of the Woman and the Dragon, 475. 

(2) Vision of the Two Beasts, 470. 

(3) Vision of Moimt Zion, 477. 

(4) Vision of the Seven Last Plagues, 478. 

(5) Vision of the Mystic Babylon. 478. 

1. Mystery of the Woman and the Beast. 479. 

2. The Beast from the Abyss, 4S0, 481. 

3. Fall of the Mystic Babylon, 4S2, 4nS. 

(6) Vision of Parousia, Millennium, and Ji;dg- 
ment, 483. 

1. A Sevenfold \ i^ion, 48S. 

2. The Millennium is the Gospel Period or 
Ai:e. 4S4. 

3. The Chiliastic Interpretation, 4S4. 485. 

4. Chiliastic Interpretation \vith<.ut .-utlieient 
warrant. 485. 

5. The Last Judgment. 4S6. 

6. S(iiiie of these Visions Iransei lul the Time- 
limits of the Book, 4s7. 

7. The Millennium of Kev. .\x now in prog- 
ress, 4S7. 488. 

(7) Vision of (he New Jerusah-m. 48S. 

1. Meaning of the >iew ,)eru.~aiuii. Three 

views, 489. 

2. Comp.arlMin of Hag. ii, 6. 7. and Ihb. .\ii. 

L'6-28, 4s9. 490. 

3. Allusion oflleb. xii. 22. 23. 49.i. 491. 

4. New Jerusalem the lleavenl\ Out ine of 

what the Tabernacle .--vmbiilized. 4'.n. 

5. It is the New Testament ( liureh and 

Kingdom of God, 492. 
8. Summary of New Testanjcnt Ai)oca]yp- 
tics and Eschatology, 492, 493. 

No Double Sense in Prophecy. 

1. Theory of a Doul)le Sense unsettles all 

sound Interpretation, 493. 

2. Typology and Double Sense of Lan- 

guage not to be confounded, 494. 

3. The suggestive Fulness of the Prophetic 

Scriptures no Proof of a Double 
Sense, 495. 

4. No misleading Designations of Time in 

Prophecy, 495, 496. 

5. Misuse of Peter's language in 2 Pot. 

iii, 8, 496. 

6. Bengel's fallacious treatment of Matt. 

xxiv, 39, 497, 498. 

7. Practical Api)licati()ns of Prophecy may 

be many, 498. 

8. MistaUeii Notions of the Bible itself the 

Cause of much False Exposition, 499. 



Scripture Quotations in the Scriptures. 

1. Four Classes of Quotations: — 

(1) Old Test. Quotations in Old Test., 500. 

(2) New Test. Quotations from Old Test., 500. 

(3) New Test. Quotations in New Test., 501. 

(4) Quotations from Apocryphal Sources, 501. 

2. Only the Old Testament Quotations in 

the New Testament call for special 
hermeneutical treatment, 502. 

3. Sources of New Testament Quotation : — 

(1) Hebrew Text, M2. 

(2) Septuagint Version, 502. 

4. No uniform Method of Quotation, 502, 


5. Inaccurate Quotations may become cur- 

rent, 503. 

6. Formulas and Methods of Quotation, 

504, 505. 

7. The formula i'lia 77 /l??pwi9r/ : — 

(1) Peculiar to Matthew and John, 505. 

(2) Views of Bengel and Meyer, 50G. 

(3) The Telle force of Iva generally to be 

maintained, 506, 507. 

(4) Tlie Ecbatic sense negd not in all cases be 

denied, 507. 

(5) "Iva telic in formulas of Prophetic cita- 

tion, 508. 

(6) Supposed exception of Matt, ii, 15, .508, 509. 

8. Purposes of Scripture Quotation : — 

(1) For showing its Fulfilment, 509. 

(2) For establishing a Doctrine, 510. 

(3) For confuting Opponents, 510. 

(4) For Authority, Rhetorical purposes, and 

Illustration, 510. 


The False and the True Accommodation. 

1. Rationalistic Theory to be repudiated, 


2. The True Idea of Accommodation, 512. 

3. Illustrated by Jer. xxxi, 15, as quoted 

in Matt, ii,' 17, 18, 512, 513. 

Alleged Discrepancies of the Scriptures. 

1. General Character of the Discrepan- 

cies, 514. 

2. Causes of the Discrepancies : — 

(1) Errors of Copyists. 514. 

(2) Various Names to one person, 514. 

(3) Different ways of reckoning Time, 514. 

(4) Different Standpoint and Aim, 514. 

3. Discrepancies in Genealogical Tables : — 

(1) Jacob's Family Record :— 

1. The different Lists compared, 515-517. 

2. The Historical Standpoint of each List, 517, 


3. Hebrew Style and TJsase. 518, 519. 

4. Substitution of Names, 519. 

5. Desire to have a definite and suggestive 

Number, 520. 

(2) The Two Genealogies of Jesus : — 

1. Different Hypotheses, 521. 

2. Views of Jerome and Africanus. .522. 

3. No Hypothesis can claim absolute CVi-tain- 

tv. 523. 

4. Hei-vcy's Theory. .523, 524. 

(3) Genealogies not Useles.-s Scripture, .524. 

4. Numerical Discrepancies, 525. 

5. Doctrinal and Ethical Discrepancies : — 

(1) Supposed Contlict between Law and Gos- 

pel, .520. 

(2) Civil Rights maintained by Jesus and 

Paul, 527. ■ 

(3) The Avenging of Blood, 528. 

i4) Difleience between Paul and James on 
Justification :— 

1. Different Personal Experiences. 529, 530. 

2. Ditl'ereut Modes of A|)i)iehendin^ uad Kx- 

pressins (ireat Trullis. 5.i0. 

3. Ditt'eivur Aim of each writer, 531. 

4. Individual Freedom of each writer, 531. 

6. Value of Biblical Discrepancies : — 

(1) To stimulate Mental Effort, 532. 

(2) To illustrate Harmony of Bible and Na- 

ture, 352. 

(3) To prove the absence of Collusion, 352. 

(4) To show the Spirit above the Letter, 352. 

(5) To serve as a Test of Moral Charactei', 352. 

Alleged Contradictions of Science. 

1. Statement of Allegations and Issuesi 


2. Attempts at Reconciliation, 533. 

3. Fundamenttil Considerations, 533, 534. 

4. Three Principal Points of Contro- 

versy: — 

A. The Record of Miracles: — 

(1) Assumed Impossibility of Miracles, 534. 

(2) No common Ground between Atheist, 

Pantheist, and Christian, 535. 

(3) Deist cannot consistently deny the Possi- 

bility of Miracles, 535. 

(4) Three important Considerations :— 

1. Miracles Parts of a Divine Order, 535, .530. 

2. God's Ptevelation involves tlie Plan of a 

great Historical Movement of which Mir- 
acles form a Part, .53<!. .'")■. T. 

3. Scripture Miracles wortliy of God. .537, 53S. 

B. Descriptions of Physical 

ENA :— 

(1) Supposed Evidences of False Astronomy, 


(2) standing Still of the Sun and Moon, 540. 

(3) Narrative of the Deluge :— 

1. Objections to its Universality. 541, 542. 

2. Universal terms often applied in Scripture 

to Limited, 543. 

3. The No.achic Delujre local, but probably 

Universal as to tlie Human Race, 543. 

C. The Oririx of the World and op 

Man :— 

(1) The Mosaic Narrative of Creation, 544. 

(2) Geological Method of Interpretation, 544, 

(.3) Cosmological Method of Interpretation, 
545, 546. 

(4) Idealistic Method of Interpretation, 540- 


(5) Grammatico-historical Interpretation :— 

1. Meaning of Heavens, Land, and Ci;eati% 


2. Biblical Narrative not a universal Cosmog- 

ony. 549, 550. 

3. It describes the Formation of the Land of 

Eden, .550. 

4. This view not a Hypothesis, but requii-ed 

by a strict Interpretation of the Hebrew 
record, 551. 

5. Doctrines and far-reachinj; Implications of 

tile Narrative. .551. .5.52. 

6. No valid I'resuniptioii against a limited 

Creation more than against a limited 
Flood. 552. 



Harmony and Diversity of the Gospels. 

1. The Life of Jesus a Turning Point in 

the History of the World, 553. 

2. The Gospels the Chief Ground of Con- 

flict between Faith and Unbelief, 553, 

3. Attempts at constructing Gospel Har- 

monies, 554. 

4. Use of such Harmonies, 555. 

5. Three Points uf Consideration: — 

(1) The Origin of the Gospels: — 

1. An ongin;il Oral Gospel, 556. 

2. No absolute Certainty as to the Particular 

Origin of each Gospel. S57. 

3. Probable Suppositions, 557, 65S. 

(2) Distinct Plan and Purpose of each 


1. Tradition of the Early Church, 55S. 

2. Matthew's Gospel adapted to .tews. 559. 

3. Mark's Gospel adapted to Roman taste, .0.59. 

4. Luke's, the Pauline Gospel to the Gentiles, 


5. John's, the Spiritual Gospel of the Life of 

Faith, 560, 561. 



1. Noticeable Characteristics of Matthew's 

Gospel, 561, b&l 

2. Oini>sions of the earlier Gospels may have 

had a Purpose. 502, 56^3. 

3. Harmony of the Gosiiels enhanced by their 

Diversit}', 563, 56-1. 

6. Unreasonableness of Magnifying tlie al- 

leged Discrepancies of the Gospels, 

Progress of Doctrine and Analogy of Faith. 

1. The Holy Scriptures a Growth, 5G6. 

2. Genesis a Series of Evolutions and 

Revelations, 567, 5G8. 

3. The Mosaic legislation a New Era of 

Revelation, 568. 
n) Doctrine of God, 568, 569. 
('2) Suiierlor Ethical and Civil Code, 569. 
(3) Pentateuch fundanientiil to Old Testa;- 
luent Revelations, 570. 

4. Divine Revelation continued after 

Moses, 570. 

5. Theology of the Psalter, 570, 671. 

6. The Solomonic Proverbial Philosophy, 


7. Old Testament Revelation reached its 

highest Spirituality in the Great 
Prophets, 57'2-575. 

8. Proplietic link between the Old and 

Kew Testaments, 575. 

9. Christ's teachings the Substance- but 

not the Finality of Christian Doc- 
trine, 575. 

10. Revelations continued after Jesus' 

Ascension, 576. 

11. The Epistles contain the elaborated 

Teachings of the Apostles, 576. 577. 

12. The A])ocalypse a fitting Conclusion 

of the New Testauicut Canon, .")77, 

13. Attention to Progress of Doctrine a 

Help to Interpretation, 578. 

14. The Analogy of Faith : — 

(1) Progress of Doctrine explains the true 

Analogy of Faith, 579. 

(2) Two Degrees of the Analogy of Faith :— 

1. Positive, 5S0. 

2. General, 5S0. 

(3) Limitation and Use of the Analogy of 

Faith as a Principle of Interpretation, 

Doctrinal and Practical Use of Scripture. 

1. Paul's Statement of the Uses of Scrip- 

ture ('2 Tim. iii, 16), 582. 

2. Roman Doctrine of Authoritative In- 

terpretation, 582. 

3. The Protestant Principle of Using 

one's own Reason, 58.'x 

4. Statement and Defence of Scripture 

Doctrine must accord with correct 
Hermeneutics, 583. 

5. Biblical and Historical Theologv dis- 

tiiiguished, 684. 

6. Human Tendency to be wise above 

what is written, 585. 

7. True and False Methods of ascertain- 

ing Scripture Doctrine: — 

(1) The Doctrine of God, 585, 5S6. 

1. Citation from the Athanasian Creed, 3S5. 

2. Symbols nut iniscni)tural. .5S6. 

3. Plural Form olthe word Eloliiiii, 5?7. 

4. Language of Gen. .\ix. '24, 5bT. 

5. The Angel of Jehovah, 5s8. 

(i. New Testament Doctrine of God, 5S8. 

7. Mysterious Distinctions in the Divine Xa- 

tiu-e. 5S9. 

8. We should .-ivoid dogmatic Assertion .and 

doubtful te.xts or readings, 590. 

(2) The Doctrine of Vicarious Atonement, 

590, 591. 

(3) The Doctrine of Eternal Pum'shmont. tm. 

1. Absence of Scriptural Hope liu- the Wick- 

ed. .592. 

2. Import of M.att. sii, 32, and Mark iii, 29, 


3. Preaching to the Siiirits in Prison, 592. 

(4) Doctrine not con lined to one portion, 

class, or style of Scriptures, 59.3. 

(5) Eschatology taught chiefly in Figurative 

Language. 59 1. 

(6) Doctrine of the Resurrection of the Dead, 


(7) Freedom from Prepossessions and Pre- 

sumptions, .595. 

(8) Texts not to be cited ad lUntnm. 

8. Xew Testament Doctrine not dear 

without the help of the Old, and 
vire vcr.m, 5V1(), 5117. 

9. Confusion of Hebrew and Aryan Modes 

of Thought, 597. 
10. Practical and Homiletical Use of Scrip- 
ture : — 

(1) Must be based on true grammatical In- 

terpretation, ,508. 

(2) Personal Experiences. Promises, Admo- 

nitions, and Warnings have lessons for 
Mil time, 5;»S, 59(1. 
(.'?) I'i-:i(-tical .\|iplii-u;io!is of Scrij'turc if 
btdlt upmi erroneous Intel pi:'I"tion, 
are thei'cby made of no ellect, GOO. 





Ancient Jewish Exegesis. 

1. Value and Importance of History of 

Interpretation, 603. 

2. Origin and Variety of Interpretations, 


3. Ezra and the Great Synagogue, 604, 


4. Tlie Halachah and Hagadah, 606-610. 

5. Philo JudiEus and his Works, 611-613. 

6. The Targums, 614. 

v. Tlie Talmud, 615-617. 

Later Rabbinical Exegesis. 

1. The Sect of the Karaites (Saadia, Ben 

AH), 618, 619. 
ii. Schools of Tiberias, Sora and Pumba- 

ditha, 620. 

3. Noted Rabbinical E.Kegetes : — 

Rashi, Aben Ezra, Maimonides, Kimchi, Cas- 
pi, Tanchum, Ralbag, Abrabanel, Levita, 
Mendelssohn, 620-638. 

4. Modern Rationalistic Judaism, 628. 

5. General Summary, 628. 

The Earliest Christian Exegesis. 

1. Indicated in the New Testament Scrip- 
tures, 629, 630. 

•2. Allegorizing Tendency of the Post-Apos- 
tolic Age, 630. 

3. Apostolic Fathers : — 

(1) Clement of Rome, Barnabas, Ignatius, 

631, 632. 

(2) Value of the Apostolic Fathers, 633, 633. 

4. Justin Martyr, Theophilus, Melito, and 

Irenaeus, 633-636. 

Later Patristic Exegesis. 

1. School of Alexandria, 63Y. 

Clemeut, Origen, Dionysius, Pierius, Peter 
Martyr, Uesychius, 638-643. 

2. School of Coesarea, 642. 

Gregory Thaumaturgus, Pamphilus, Eusebi- 
us, Cyril of Alexandria, 643, 644. 

3. The School of Antioch, 644. 
Africanus, Dorotheus, Lucian, Eustathius, 

Diodorus, Theodore of Mopsuestia, Chry- 
sostom, Isidore, Theodoret, 644-64!). 

4. Schools of Edessa and Nisibis, 650. 
Ephraem Syrus, Barsumas, Ibas, 651. 

5. Other eminent Fathers : — 
Athanasius, Epiphanius, Basil, Gregory, Ul- 

philas, Andreas, .\rethas, 651, 653. 

6. Fathers of the Western Church : — 
Hippolytus, Tertulhan, Cyprian, Vlctorlnus, 

Hilary, Ambrose, Jerome, Augustine, Pe- 
lagius, Tichouius, Vincent, Cassiodorus, 
Gregory the Great, 653-659. 

7. General Character of Patristic Exege- 

sis, 660. 


Exegesis of the Middle Ages. 

1. No great Exegetes during this Period, 


2. The Catenists : — 

Procoplus of Gaza, Bede, Alcuin, Maurus, 
Haymo, Strabo, Druthmar, tEcumeuius, 
Theophylatt, Lanfrauc, Willeram, Rupert, 
Lombard, Zigabenus, Joachim, Aquinas, 
Bonaventura, Hugo, Albert, 661-66r. 

3. Writers of the Fourteenth and Fif- 

teenth Centuries : — 
Nicholas de Lyra, Wycliffe, Huss, Wessel, 
Gerson, Laurentius Valla, Reucblln, Eras- 
mus, Lefevre, Mirandula, Sanctes Fag- 
nlnus, 6137-672. 
4- The First Polyglots, 672. 

Exegesis of the Reformation. 

1. The Dawn of a New Era, 673. 

2. The great Expositors of tliis Period : — 
Luther, Melanchthnn, Zwlugle, fficolampa- 

dius, Pellican, Minister, Calvin, Beza, Cas- 
tellio, Bullinger, Flacius, Piscator, Junius, 
Marlorat, Maldonatus, 673-680. 

3. Translations of the Bible. 680, 681. 

4. Antwerp and Nuremberg Polyglots, 681. 

5. Tendencies of Lutheran and Reformed 

Parties, 681, 682. 


Exegesis of the Seventeenth Century. 

1. Progress of Biljlical Studies, 683. 

(1) Hebrew Philology promoted by Buxlorf, 

Schindler, VatabluSf De Dieii, Drusius, 
and Scaliger, 683. 

(2) King James' English Version, 683. 

(3) Paris and London Polyglots, 684. 

(4) Critici Sacri and Poole's Synopsis, 684, 035. 

2. Distinguished English Exegetes : — 
Lightfoot, Pocock, Hammond, -Ainsworth, 

Gataker, Usher, Owen, Mede, 685-688. 

3. French Biblical Schohirs, 688. 
Casaubon, Cappel, Simon, Bochart, 088, 689, 

4. Biblical Scholars in Holland : — 
Arminjus, Grotius, Voetius, Cocceius, Leus- 

den, 6S9-693. 

5. German Biblical Scholars : — 
Olearius, Glassius, Schmidt, Pfeifter, 693. 

0. Progress of Free Thought, 694. 



Exegesis of the Eighteenth Century. 

1. Eighteenth Century a period of En- 

lightenment, 695. 

2. Dutch, German, and French Biblical 

Scholars : — 
Vitringa, Witsius, Lampe, Veneiua, Le Clerc, 
Scti aliens, Uelaud, Sctioettgeii, Aleiischen, 
Surentiuslus, Leydecker, We-ssfimg, J. C. 
Wolf, Alberti, JKypke, Ualmel, lieausobre, 
Quesnel, ()95-ti97. 
8. Progress in Textual Criticism : — 
Houbigant, Kennicott, De Rossi, Mill, Bent- 
ley, Bengel, Welstein, Griesliacli, GUd-iOO. 

4. Textual Criticism opposed by ilie Voe- 

tian School, VUO. 

5. English Exegetes : — 

Patrick, Whitby, W. Lowth, R. T,(jvvt!i, Henry, 
Doddridge, Uodd, Scott, Gill, Cbandler, 
Pearce, Mackniglat, Campbell, Newcouie, 
Blayney, Green, Wells, Wesley, roo-7t>3. 

6. English Deistical Writers : — 
Blount, Toland, Shaftesbury, Collins. Wool- 

ston, Tindal, Morgan, Chubb, Boling- 
broke, Hume, 703, 704. 
V. English Anti-deistical Writers :— 
Chandler, Sherlock, Butler, Conybeare, Le- 
land, Waterland, Warburton, 705. 

8. French Unbelief: — 

Condillac, Voltaire, Diderot, Rousseau, Vol- 
ney, 705. 

9. Rise and Decline of Pietism : — 
Spener,Franeke, Michaelis, Mosheim, Koppe, 

Emesti, Keil, Herder, C.von Wolf, Lange, 
Berleburg Bible and Wertheim Bible, 
Baumgaiten, 705-709. 

10. Growth of German Rationalism : — 
Sem'.er, Edelmann, Bahrdt, Nigolai, Wolfen- 

biittel Fragments, Teller's Lexicon, Schol- 
arly form of Rationalism, 710, 711. 

11. Immanuel Kant and Philosophical 

Criticism, 712. 

Exegesis of the Nineteenth Century. 

1. Progress of Biblical Science, 7lo. 

2. German Rationalistic School of Inter- 

preters : — 
Eichhorn, Paulus, Critics of the Pentateuch 
(Astruc, Vater, etc.), Heyue, Gable--, G. L. 
Bauer, Sirau.s.,, V.'eisse, Bruno Baur, V. C. 
Baur and the Tiibiugen School, French 
Critical School (Renan, etc.), 713-717. 

3. German Mediation School of Interpre- 

ters : — 
Schleiermacher, Neander, De AVette, Liickc, 
Rosenmiiller, Maurer, Berthohlt, Lcn- 
gerke, Kuinoel, Gesenius, Ewaid, Hupielu, 
Hofifmann, 717-723. 

4. German Evangelical School of Inter- 

preters : — 
Storr and Old Tiibingen School, Hengsten- 
berg, Havernick, Bleek, Umbreit, Ullmann, 
Tholuck, Stier, Olshausen, Baumgarten, 
Philippi, Winer, Meyer, Auberlen, Kurtz, 
Keil, Delitzsch, J. P. Lange, Godet, Lut- 
hardt, 7'2.3-72('. 

5. English Exegetes : — 

Adam Clarke, Benson, Watson, Henderson, 
Bloomfleld, Kitto, Home, Davidson, .\!- 
foid, Wordsworth, Trench, Ellicott, J. B. 
Lightfoot, Eadie, Gloag, Murphy. Morison, 
Perowne, Jamieson, Cook, Stanley, Joviett, 
Convbeai'e. Howsou, Lewin, Elliott, Ka- 
liscli, Ginsburg, 728-733. 

6. American Exegetes : — 

Stuart, Robinson, Alexander, Norton, Hodge, 
Turner, Bush, Barnes, Jacobus, Owen. 
Whedon, Cowles, Conant, Strong, (iardi- 
ner, Shedd, 733-735. , 

7. New Testament Textual Ci'iticism : — 
Knapp, Schulz, Scholz, Lachnianu. Tischen- 

dorf, Tregelles, Westcottand Hort, 73.j, 73d, 

8. The Revised English Version, 737. 

9. Present Condition and Demands of Bib- 

lical Interpretation, 737, 738. 

1. Bibliography of Hermeneutics 739 

2. Index of Scripture Texts 153 

3. General Index 770 



It vjcre indeed meet for us -not at all to require the aid of the written Word, 
hut to exhibit a life so pure that the grace of the Spirit should he instead of hooTcs 
to our souls, and that as these are inscribed with ink, even so should our hearts 
he with the Spirit, ^ut, since we have utterly put away from us this grace, 
come, let us at any rate emhrace the second-hest course. For if it he a hlame to 
stand in need of written words, and not to have hrought down on ourselves the 
grace of the Spirit, consider how heavy the charge of not choosing to profit even 
after this assistance, hut rather treating what is written with neglect, as if it 
were cast forth without purpose, and at random, and so bringing down upon 
ourselves our punishment with increase. ^ut that no such effect may ensue, 
let us give strict heed unto the things that are written ; and let us learn how 
the Old Xjaw was given on the one hand, and how, on the other, the JTew 
Covenant. — Ciikysostou. 






Hekmeisteutics is the science of interpretation. The word is usu- 
ally applied to the explanation of written documents, and may 
tiierefore be more specifically defined as the science of nermeneutics 
interpreting an author's language.' This science as- defined, 
sumes that there are divers modes of thought and ambiguities of 
expression among men, and, accordingly, it aims to remove the 
' supposable differences between a writer and his readers, so that the 
meaning of the one may be truly and accurately apjirehended by 
the others. 

It is common to distinguish between General and Special Her- 
meneutics. General Ilermeneutics is devoted to the ^, 

General and 

general principles which are applicable to the inter^^re- special Her- 
tation of all languages and writing. It may appropri- ™ ° " 
ately take cognizance of the logical operations of the human mind, 
and the philosophy of human speech. Special Hermeneutics is de- 
voted rather to the explanation of particular books and classes of 
writings. Thus, historical, poetical, philosophical, and prophetical 
writings differ from each other in numerous particulars, and each 
class requires for its projDer exposition the application of principles 
and methods adapted to its own peculiar character and style. 
Special Hermeneutics, according to Cellerier, is a science practical 
and almost empirical, and searches after rules and solutions ; while 
General Hermeneutics is methodical and philosojihical, and searches 
for principles and methods.^ 

' The word hermeneutics is of Greek origin, from epfiTjvevu, to interpret, to ex- 
plain ; thence the adjective ?/ epfirji'EVTiuTi (sc. Texvr]\ that is, the hermeneuiieal art, 
and thence our word hermeneutics, the science or art of interpretation. Closely kin- 
dred is also the name '■E/jfir/r, Ilermcs, or Mercury, who, beai'ing a golden rod of magic 
power, figures in Grecian mythology as the messenger of the gods, the tutelary deity 
of speech, of writing, of arts and sciences, and of all skill and accomplishments. 

^ Manuel d'Hermenoutiquc Biblique, p. 5. Geneva, 1852. 


Biblical or Sacred Hermeneutics is the science of interpreting 
the Holy Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments. 

Biblical or Sa- "i , m . tit • i- ^ 

cred Heme- Inasmuch as these two lestaments difter m form, lan« 
neutics. guage, and historical conditions, many writers have 

deemed it preferable to treat the hermeneutics of each Testament 
separately. And as the New Testament is the later and fuller rev- 
elation, its interpretation has received the fuller and more frequent 
attention/ But it may be questioned whether such a separate 
treatment of the Old and New Testaments is the better course. It 
Old and New ^^ ^^ *^^® ^^'^^ importance to observe that, from a Christ- 
Test. Herme- ian point of view, the Old Testament cannot be fully 
iTfe separ- apprehended without the help of the New. The mys- 
ated. tery of Christ, which in other generations was not made 

known unto men, was revealed unto the apostles and prophets of 
the New Testament (Eph. iii, 5), and that revelation sheds a flood 
of light upon numerous portions of the Hebrew Scriptures. On the 
other hand, it is equally true that a scientific interpi-etation of the 
New Testament is imjjossible without a thorough knowledge of the 
older Scriptures. The very language of the New Testament, though 
belonging to another family of human tongues, is notably liebraic. 
The style, diction, and spirit of many parts of the Greek Testament 
cannot be properly appreciated without acquaintance with the style 
and spirit of the Hebrew prophets. The Old Testament also abounds 
in testimony of the Christ (Luke xxiv, 27, 44 ; John v, 39 ; Acts 
X, 43), the illustration and fulfillment of which can be seen only in 
the light of the Christian revelation. In short, the whole Bible is 
a divinely constructed unity, and there is danger that, in studying 
one part to the comparative neglect of the other, we may fall into 
one-sided and erroneous methods of exposition. The Holy Scrip- 

' Among the more important modern works on the hermeneutics of the New Testa- 
ment are: Ernesti, Institutio Interpretis Novi Testament! (Lips., 1761), translated into 
English by M. Stuart (Andover, 1827), and Terrot (Edin., 1843); Klausen, Ilerme- 
neutik des neucn Testamontes (Lpz., 1841); Wilke, Die Hermeneutik des neuen Tcs- 
Jamentes systcmatisch dargestellt (Lpz., 1843) ; Doedes, Manual of Hermeneutics for 
the Writings of the New Testament, translated from the Dutch by Stegmann (Edin., 
1867); Fairbairn, Hermeneutical Manual of the New Testament (Phila., 1859); Im- 
mer, Hermeneutics of the New Testament, translated from the German by A. H. New- 
•man (Andover, 1877). The principal treatises on Old Testament hermeneutics are: 
Meyer, Versuch einer Hermeneutik des alten Testaments (1790); Pareau, Institutio 
Interpretis Veteris Testamenti (1822), translated by Forbes for the Edinburgh Biblical 
Cabinet. The hermeneutics of both Testaments is treated by Seller, Biblical Her- 
meneutics, or the Art of Scripture Interpretation, translated from the German by 
Wright (Lond., 183.5); Davidson, Sacred Hermeneutics (Edin., 1843), Cellerier's Man- 
ual, mentioned above, recently translated into English by Elliott and Harsha (N. Y., 
1881), and Lange, Grundrissderbiblischen Hermeneutik (Heidelb., 1878). 


tures should be studied as a whole, for their several parts were giv- 
en in manifold portions and modes (noXvfiepibg Kai TroXvTpoTTCjg, Heb. 
i, 1), and, taken all together, they constitute a remarkably self -in- 
terpreting volume. 

Biblical Hermeneutics, having a specific field of its own, should 
be carefully distinguished from other branches of theo- Bisunguished 
logical science with which it is often and quite naturally yo'"c"r '^"'^" 
associated. It is to be distinguished from Biblical In- and Exegesis. 
troduction. Textual Criticism, and Exegesis. Biblical Introduction, 
or Isagogics, is devoted to the historico-critical examination of the 
different books of the Bible. It inquires after their age, author- 
ship, genuineness, and canonical authority, tracing at the same time 
their origin, preservation, and integrity, and exhibiting their con- 
tents, relative rank, and general character and value. The scien- 
tific treatment of these several subjects is often called the " Higher 
Criticism." Textual Criticism has for its special object Textual cnti- 
the ascertaining of the exact words of the original texts cism. 
of the saci'ed books. Its method of procedure is to collate and 
compare ancient manuscripts, ancient versions, and ancient scripture 
quotations, and, by careful and discriminating judgment, sift con- 
flicting testimony, weigh the evidences of all kinds, and thus en- 
deavour to determine the true reading of every doubtful text. 
This science is often called the "Lower Criticism." "Where such 
criticism ends, Hermeneutics j^roperly begins, and aims to establish 
the principles, methods, and rules which are needful to unfold the 
sense of what is written. Its object is to elucidate Avhatever may 
be obscure or ill-defined, so that every reader may be able, by an 
intelligent process, to obtain the exact ideas intended by the author. 
Exegesis is the application of these principles and laws, Exegesis and 
the actual bringing out into formal statement, and by Exposition, 
other terms, the meaning of the author's words. Exegesis is re- 
lated to hermeneutics as preaching is to homiletics, or, in general, 
as practice is to theory. Exposition is another word often used 
synonymously with exegesis, and has essentially the same significa- 
tion ; and yet, perhaps, in common usage, exposition denotes a more 
extended development and illustration of the sense, dealing more 
largely M'ith other scriptures by comparison and contrast. We 
observe, accordingly, that the writer on Biblical Introduction ex- 
amines the historical foundations and canonical authority of the 
books of Scripture. The textual critic detects interpolations, emends 
false readings, and aims to give us the very words which the sacred 
writers used. The exegete takes up these words, and by means of 
the principles of hermeneutics, defines their meaning, elucidates the 


scope and plan of each writer, and brings forth the grammatico- 
historical sense of what each book contains. The expositor builds 
upon the labours both of critics and exegetes, and sets forth in fuller 
form, and by ample illustj*ation, the ideas, doctrines, and moral 
lessons of the Scripture.' 

But while w^e are careful to distinguish hermeneutics from these 
kindred branches of exegetical theology, we should not fail to note 
that a science of interpretation must essentially de2:)end on exegesis 
for the maintenance and illustration of its principles and rules. As 
the full grammar of a language establishes its principles by sufficient 
examples and by formal praxis, so a science of hermeneutics must 
needs verify and illustrate its jDrinciiDles by examjjles of their prac- 
tical application. Its province is not merely to define principles 
and methods, but also to exemj^lify and illusti*ate them. Herme- 
neutics, therefore, is both a science and an art. As a 

Hermeneutics , ' ^ / 

both a Science Science, it enunciates principles, investigates the laws 
an an . ^£ thought and language, and classifies its facts and 
results. As an art, it teaches what application these principles 
should have, and establishes their soundness by showing their prac- 
tical value in the elucidation of the more difficult scriptvxres. The 
hermeneutical art thus cultivates and establishes a valid exegetical 

The necessity of a science of interpretation is apparent from the 
Necessity of diversities of mind and culture among men. Personal 
Hermeneutics. intercourse between individuals of the same nation and 
language is often difficult and embarrassing by reason of their dif- 
ferent styles of thought and expression. Even the Apostle Peter 
found in Paul's epistles things which were difficult to understand 
(dvavorjra, 2 Pet. iii, 16). The man of broad and liberal culture 
lives and moves in a diffei'cnt world from the unlettered peasant, 
so much so that sometimes the ordinnry conversation of the one is 
scarcely intelligible to the other. Different schools of metaphysics 
and opposing systems of theology have often led their several ad- 
vocates into strange misunderstandings. Tlie speculative philoso- 
pher, Avho ponders long on abstract themes, and by deep study 

' Docdes thus iliseriminatos between explaining and interpreting: " To explain, 
properly signifies the unfolding of what is contained in the words, and to' interpret, 
the making clear of what is not clear by casting light on that which is obscure. Very 
often one interprets l)y means of explaining, namely, when, by unfolding the sense of 
the words, liglit is reflected on what is said or written; but it cannot be said that one 
explains by interpreting. While explaining generally is interpreting, interpreting, 
properly speaking, is not explaining. But we do not usually observe this distinction 
in making use of these terms, and may without harm use them promiscuously." 
Manual of Hermeneutics, p. 4. 


constructs a doctrine or system clear to his own mind, may find it 
difficult to set forth his views to others so as to prevent all miscon- 
ception. His whole subject matter lies beyond the range of com- 
mon thought. The hearers or readers, in such a case, must, like 
the philosopher himself, dwell long upon the subject. They must 
have terms defined, and ideas illustrated, until, step by stej:), they 
come to imbibe the genius and spirit of the new philosophy. But 
especially great and manifold are the difficulties of understanding 
the writings of those who differ from us in language and national- 
ity. The learned themselves become divided in their essays to 
decipher and interpret the records of the past. Volumes and li- 
braries have been written to elucidate the obscurities of the Greek 
and Roman classics. The foremost scholars and linguists of the pres- 
ent generation are busied in the study and exposition of the sacred 
books of the Chinese, the Plindus, the Parsees, aifcd the Egyptians, 
and, after all their learned labours, they disagree in the translation 
and solution of many a passage. How much more might we ex- 
pect great differences of opinion in the interpretation of a book 
like the Bible, composed at sundry times and in many parts and 
modes, and ranging through many departments of literature! 
What obstacles might reasonably be expected in the interpretation 
of a record of divine revelation, in which heavenly thoughts, un- 
known to men before, were made to express themselves in the im- 
perfect formulas of human speech! The most contradictory rules 
of interpretation have been propounded, and expositions have been 
made to suit the peculiar tastes and prejudices of writers or to main- 
tain preconceived opinions, until all scientific method has been set 
at nought, and each interpreter became a law unto himself. Hence 
the necessity of well-defined and self-consistent principles of Script- 
ure interpretation. Only as exegetes come to adopt common prin- 
ciples and m,ethods of procedure, Avill the interpretation of the 
Bible attain the dignity and certainty of an cstal)lished science. 

The rank and importance of Biblical PIcrmeneutics among the 
various studies embraced in Theological Encyclopaedia ^^^^^ ^^^ ^^_ 
and Methodology is apparent from the fundamental re- portance of 

. . IlGrinciiGiitic3 

lation which it sustains to them all. For the Scripture jn Theological 
revelation is itself essentially the centime and substance Science, 
of all theological science. It contains the clearest and fullest exhi- 
bition of the person and character of God, and of the spiritual needs 
and possibilities of man. A sound and trustworthy interpretation of 
the scripture records, therefore, is the root and basis of all revealed 
theology. Without it Systematic Theology, or Dogmatics, could 
not b*e legitimately constructed, and would, in fact, be essentially 


impossible. For the doctrines of revelation can only be learned 
from a correct understanding of the oracles of God. Historical 
Theology, also, tracing as it does the thought and life of the Church, 
must needs take cognizance of the principles and methods of script- 
ure interpretation which have so largely controlled in the develop- 
ment of that thought and life. The creeds of Christendom assume 
to rest upon the teachings of the inspired Scriptures. Apologetics, 
polemics, ethics, and all that is embraced in Practical Theology, are 
ever making appeal to the authoritative records of the Christian 
faith. The great work of the Christian ministry is to preach the 
word ; and that most important labour cannot be effectually done 
without a thorough knowledge of the Scriptures and skill in the 
interpretation and application of the same. Personal piety and 
practical godliness are nourished by the study of this written word. 
The psalmist sings (Psa. cxix, 105, 111) : 

A lamp to my foot is thy word, 

And a light to my pathway. 

I Iiave taken possession of thy testimonies forever, 

For the joy of my heart are they.' 

The Apostle Paul admonished Timothy that the Holy Scriptures 
were able to make him wise unto salvation through faith in Jesus 
Christ (2 Tim. iii, 15). And Jesus himself, interceding for his own 
chosen followers, prayed, " Sanctify them in the truth ; thy word is 
truth" (John xvii, IV). Accordingly, the Lord's ambassador must 
not adulterate (2 Cor. ii, 17), but rightly divide, the word of the 
truth (2 Tim. ii, 15). For if ever the divinely appointed ministry 
of reconciliation accomplish the perfecting of the saints, and the 
building up of the body of Christ, so as to bring all to the attain- 
ment of the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of 
God (Eph. iv, 12, 13), it must be done by a coi'rect interpreta- 
tion and efficient use of the word of God. The interpretation 
and application of that word miist rest upon a sound and self -evi- 
dencing science of hermeneutics. 

' All scripture quotations in the present work have been made by translating direct- 
ly from the Hebrew, Ciialdee, iind Greek originals. To have followed the Authorized 
Version would have necessitated a large amount of circumlocution. In many instances 
the citation of a text is designed to illustrate a process as well as a principle of her- 
meneutics. It is often desirable to bring out, either incidentally or prominently, 
some noticeable emphasis, and this can be done best by giving the exact order of tlie 
words of the original. The observance of such order in translation may sometimes 
violate the usage and idiom of the best English, but, in many cases, it yields the 
best possible translation. 




It is no inconsiderable preparation for the hermeneutical study of 
the Bible to be able to appreciate its rank and value as compared 
with other sacred books. During the last half century ^^^^^ religious 
the learned research and diligent labour of scholars have literatures aval- 
made accessible to us whole literatures of nations that tlon for^heTme- 
were comparatively unknown before. It is discovered ^euticai study. 
that the ancient Egyptians, the Persians, the Hindus, the Chinese, 
and other nations, have had their sacred writings, some of which 
claim an antiquity greater than the books of Moses. There are not 
wanting, in Christian lands, men disposed to argue that these sacred 
books of the nations possess a value as great as the scriptures of the 
Christian faith, and are entitled to the same veneration. Such 
claims are not to be ignored or treated with contempt. There have 
been, doubtless, savage islanders who imagined that the sun rose 
and set for their sole benefit, and who never dreamed that the sound- 
ing waters about their island home were at the same time washing 
beautiful corals and precious pearls on other shores. Among civil- 
ized peoples, also, there are those who have no appreciation of lands, 
nations, literatures, and religions which differ from their own. This, 
however, is a narrowness unworthy of the Christian scholar. The 
truly catholic Christian will not refuse to acknowledge the manifest 
excellences of races or religions that differ from his own. lie will 
be governed in his judgments by the precept of the apostle (Phil, 
iv, 8) : " Whatever things are true, whatever things are worthy of 
honour (oeixva), whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, 
whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if 
there be any virtue and if there be any praise, think upon (Xoyl^eods, 
exercise reason upon) these things." The study and comparison of 
other scriptures will serve, among other things, to show how i^re- 
eminently the Christian's Bible is adapted to the spiritual nature 
and religious culture of all mankind.* 

' " This volume," says Professor Phelps, " has never yet numbered among its re- 
ligious believers a fourth part of the human race, yet it has swayed a greater amount 
of miud than any other volume the world has known. It has the singular faculty of 
attracting to itself the thinkers of the world, either as friends or as foes, always and 
everywhere." Men and Books, p. 239. New York, 1882. 



The scri^otures of the Old and New Testaments are the gradual 
accretion of a literature that covers about sixteen centuries. The 
Outline of Bib- <^ifferent parts were contributed at different times, and 
licai Literature \,j many different hands. According to the order of 
the"°christiaD books in the Christian Canon, we have, first, the five 
Canon. Books of Moses, Avhich embody the Ten Commandments, 

with their various accessory statutes, moral, civil, and ceremonial, 
all set in a historical background of singular simplicity and gran- 
deur. Then follow twelve Historical Books, recording the history 
of the Israelitish nation from the death of Moses to the restoration 
from Babylonian exile, and covering a period of a thousand years. 
Next follow five Poetical Books — a drama, a psalter, two books of 
proverbial philosophy, and a song of love ; and after these are sev- 
enteen Prophetical Books, among which are some of the most mag- 
nificent monuments of all literature. In the New Testament we 
have, first, the four Gospels, which record the life and words of 
Jesus Christ ; then the Acts of the Apostles, a history of the origin 
of the Christian Church; then the thirteen Epistles of Paul, fol- 
lowed by the Epistle to the Hebrews, and the seven General Epis- 
tles; and, finally, the Apocalypse of John. Hei-e, at a rapid glance, 
we see an ancient library of history, law, theology, philosophy, 
poetry, prophecy, epistles, and biography. Most of these books 
still bear their author's names, some of whom we find to have been 
kings, some propliets, some shepherds, some fishermen. One was a 
taxgatherer, another a tentmaker, another a physician, but all were 
deeply versed in sacred things. There could have been no collusion 
among them, for they lived and wrote in different ages, centuries 
apart, and their places of residence were far separate, as Arabia, 
Palestine, Babylon, Persia, Asia Minor, Greece, and Rome," The 
antiquities and varying civilizations of these different nations and 
countries are imaged in these sacred books, and, where the name of 
an author is not known, it is not difficult to ascertain approximately, 
from his statements or allusions, the time and circumstances of his 
writing. The nation with whom these books originated, and the 
lands that nation occupied first and last, are so well known, and so 
accurately identified, as to give a living freshness and reality to 

' Gelke sn vs : " Scripture proves throughout to he only so miiny notes in a divine har- 
mony wliicli culminates in the anfrel gonp; over Bethlehem. What less than Divine in- 
spiration could have evolved such unity of purpose and spirit in the long series of sacred 
writers, no one of whom could possil)ly ho conscious of the part he was being made to 
take in the development of God's ways to our race V" Hours with the IJible, vol. i, p. 5. 


these records; and the rich and varied contents of the several books 
are such as to make them of priceless value to all men and all ao-es. 
"I am of opinion," wrote Sir William Jones — a most competent 
judge on such a subject — "that this volume, independently of its 
divine origin, contains more true sublimity, more exquisite beauty, 
more pure morality, more important history, and finer strains of 
poetry and eloquence, than can be collected from all other books, 
in whatever age or language they may have been written.'" Let 
us now compare and contrast these scriptures with the sacred books 
of other nations. 

The Avesta. 

No body of sacred literature except the Christian Canon can be 
of much greater interest to the student of history than the scrip- 
tures of the Parsees, which are commonly called the , ,. ., 

' . . . *' Antiquity and 

Zend-Avesta, They contain the traditions and cere- general char- 
monies of the old Iranian faith, the religion of Zoro- ^^ ^^' 
aster, or (more propei'ly) Zarathustra. They have sadly suffered 
by time and the revolutions of empire, and come to us greatly 
mutilated and corrupted, but since they were first brought to the 
knowledge of the western world by the enthusiastic Frenchman, 
Anquetil-Duperron,^ whose adventures in the East read like a ro- 
mance from the Arabian Nights, the studies of European scholars 
have \n\t us in possession of their general scope and subject matter.' 
They consist of four distinct sections, the Yasna, the Vispered, the 
Vendidad, and a sort of separate hagiographa, commonly called 

The main principles of the Avesta religion are thus summed up 
by Darmesteter : " The world, such as it is now, is two- p^p^^j^^.^^ 
fold, beinff the work of two hostile beings, Ahura- tem oi the 
Mazda, the good principle, and Angra-Mainyu, the evil 
principle ; all that is good in the world comes from the former, all 

' Written on a blank leaf of his Bible. 

^ In his work entitled, Zend-Avesta, ouvrage de Zoroastre, contenant les Idees Theo- 
logiques, Physiques et Morales de ce Legislateur, S vols.. Par., 1771. 

^ Especially deserving of mention are Eugene Burnouf, Cominentaire sur le Yacna, 
3 vols., Par., 1S33 ; Westergaard, Zendavesta, Copenh., 1852-54; Spiegel, who has 
published the original text, with a full critical apparatus, and also a German transla- 
tion, with a commentary on both the text and translation, Lpz., 1853-1 808; Haug, 
Essays on the Sacred Language, Writings, and Religion of the Parsees, Bombay, 1802 ; 
also Die Gathas des Zarathustra, Lpz., 1858; Windischmann, Zoroastrische Studien, 
Berl., 1803. An English version of the Avesta from Spiegel's German version, by 
A. H. Bleek, was published in London, in 1804, and a better one from the original 
text, by J. Darmesteter, (Part I, The Vendidad, Oxf., 1880), as Vol. IV, of The 
Sacred Books of the East, edited by Max Miiller. 


that is bad in it comes from the latter. The history of the "world 
is the history of their conflict, how Angra-Mainyu invaded the 
world of Ahura-Mazda and marred it, and how he shall be expelled 
from it at last. Man is active in the conflict, his duty in it being 
laid before him in the law revealed by Ahura-Mazda to Zarathustra. 
When the appointed time is come, a son of the lawgiver, still un- 
born, named Saoshyant, will appear, Angra-Mainyu and Hell will be 
destroyed, men will rise from the dead, and everlasting happiness 
will reign over the world." ^ 
The oldest portion of the Avesta is called the Yasna, which, 
along with the Vispered, constitutes the Parsee Lit- 
urgy, and consists of praises of Ahura-Mazda, and all 
the lords of purity, and of invocations for them to be present at 
the ceremonial worship. Many of these prayers contain little more 
than the names and attributes of the several objects or patrons of 
the Zoroastrian worship, and the perusal of them soon becomes 
tedious. The following constitutes the whole of the twelfth 
chapter, and is one of the finest passages, and a favourite : 

I praise the well-thought, well-spoken, well-performed thoughts, words, 
and works. I lay hold on all good thoughts, words, and works. I aban- 
don all evil thoughts, words, and works. I bring to you, O Amesha- 
Sjjentas," praise and adoration, with thoughts, words, and works, with 
heavenly mind, the vital strength of my own body. 

The following, from the beginning of the thirteenth chapter, is 
another favourite : 

I drive away the dsevas (demons), I j^rofess myself a Zarathustrian, an 
expeller of daevas, a follower of i\.hura, a hymn-singer of the Ameslia- 
Spentas, a praiser of the Amesha-Spentas. To Ahura-Mazda, the Good, 
endued with good wisdom, I offer all good. To the Pure, Rich, Majestic; 
whatever are the best goods to him, to Avhom the cow, to whom purity 
belongs; from whom arises the light, the brightness which is inseparable 
from the lights. Spenta-Armaiti, the good, choose I; may she belong to 
me ! By my praise will I save the cattle from theft and robbery. 

The latter part of the Yasna contains the religious hymns known 
_ as the Gathas. They are believed to be the oldest por- 

The G a. thus 

tion of the Avesta, and are written in a more ancient 
dialect. But a considerable part of them is scarcely intelligible, all 
the learning and labour of scholars having thus far failed to clear up 

' Darmesteter, Translation of the Avesta, Introduction, p. Ivi. 

" The Amesha-Spentas, six in number, were at first mere personifications of virtues 
and moral or liturgical powers ; but as Ahura-Mazda, their lord and father, ruled over 
the whole of the world, they took by and by each a part of the world under their 
care. Comp, Darmesteter, p. Ixxi. 


the difficulties of the ancient text. The general drift of thought, 
however, is apparent. Praises are continually addressed to the holy 
powers, especially to the Holy Spirit Ahura-Mazda (Ormuzd), the 
Creator, the Rejoicer, the Pure, the Fair, the Heavenly, the Ruler 
over all, the Most Profitable, the Friend for both worlds. Many a 
noble sentiment is uttered in these ancient hymns, but, at the same 
time, a much larger amount of frivolous matter. 

The Vispered is but a liturgical addition to the Yasna, and of sim- 
ilar character. It contains twenty-seven chapters, of The vispered. 
which the following, from the eighth chapter, is a specimen: 

The right-spoken words praise we. 

The holy Sraosha praise we. 

The good purity praise we. 

Nairo-Sanlia praise we. 

The victorious i^eaces praise we. 

The undaunted, who do not come to shame, praise we. 

The Fravashis (souls) of the pure praise we. 

The bridge Chinvat' praise we. 

The dwelling of Ahura-Mazda praise we. 

The best place of the pure praise we, 

Tlie shining, wholly brilliant. 
The best-arriving at Paradise praise we. 

The Vendidad, consisting of twenty-two chapters, or fargards, 
is of a different character. It is a minute code of Zoro- 
astrian laws, most of which, how^ever, refer to matters ^" ^ ' 

of purification. The first fargard enumerates the countries which 
were created by Ahura-Mazda, and afterward corrupted by the evil 
principle, Angra-Mainyu, who is full of death and opposition to 
the good. The second introduces us to Yima, the fair, who refused 
to be the teacher, recorder, or bearer of the law, but became the 
protector and overseer of the world. Chapter third enumerates 
things which are most acceptable and most displeasing to the world ; 
and chapter fourth describes breaches of contracts and other sins, 
and prescribes the different degrees of punishment for each, declar- 
ing, among other things, that a man's nearest relatives may become 
involved in his 2)unishment, even to a thousandfold. Chapters fifth 
to twelfth treat uncleanness occasioned by contact with dead bod- 
ies, and the means of purification. Chapters thirteenth and four- 
teenth praise the dog, and heavy punishments are enjoined for those 
who injure the animal so important and valuable to a pastoral peo- 
ple. Fargards fifteenth and sixteenth give laws for the treatment of 

' Over which the good are supposed to pass into Paradise. 


women, and condemn seduction and attempts to procure abortion. 
Fargard seventeenth gives directions concerning paring the nails 
and cutting the hair. The remaining five chapters contain numer- 
ous conversations between Ahura-Mazda and Zoroaster, and appear 
to be fragmentary additions to the original Vendidad. 

The rest of the Parsee scriptures are comprehended under -what 
The Khordah- ^s commonly called the Khordah-Avesta, that is, the 
Avesta. small Avesta. This part contains the Yashts and Nya- 

yis, prayers and praises addressed to the various deities of the 
Zoroastrian faith ; also the Af erin and Afrigan, praises and thanks- 
givings ; the Sirozah, praises to the deities of the thirty days of the 
month; the Gahs, prayers to the different subdivisions of the day; 
and the Patets, or formulai'ies of confession. 

These praises and prayers of the small Avesta are intended for 
the use of the people, as those of the Yasna and Vispered are prin- 
cipally for the priests. Taken altogether, these Parsee scriptures 
are a prayer-book, or ritual, rather than a bible. But though they 
are associated with the venerable name of Zoroaster, and tradition 
has it that he composed two million verses, yet nothing in this vol- 
ume can with certainty be ascribed to him, and he himself is a dim 
and mythical personage. In all these writings there is a vagueness 
and uncertainty about subject matter, date, and authorship. Dar- 
mesteter says: "As the Parsees are the ruins of a j^eople, so are 
their sacred books the ruins of a religion. There has been no other 
great belief in the world that ever left such poor and meagre monu- 
ments of its past splendor." ' 

Assyrian- Sacred Records. 

The cuneiform inscriptions on the monuments of the Assyrian, 
Vast range of Babylonian, and Persian empires have been found to 
cmSrm in^ embody a vast literature, embracing history, law, sci- 
scriptioas. encc, poctry, and religion. To the interpretation of 
these monumental records a number of eminent orientalists,' chiefly 
English and French, have been, within the last half century, devot- 
ing unwearied study, and many of the most interesting inscriptions 
have been deciphered and translated into the languages of modern 
Europe. At the date of the earliest monumental records, two dif- 
ferent races appear to have settled upon the plains of the Euphrates 
and Tigris, one using a Semitic, the other a Scythian or Turanian 

. * Translation of the Zond.Avc?ta ; Introduction, p. xii. 

" Amonj^ the most distinguished Assyriologists are Rawlinson, Ilincks, Norris, George 
Smith, Talbot, Saycc, Botta, Dc Saulcy, Oppert, Lenorinant, Menant, and Schrader. 


language. They are designated by the names Sumir and Akkad, 
but what particular sections of the country each inhabited, or which 
particular language -each spoke, does not appear.' They were, 
probably, much intermixed, as many of their cities bear both Sem- 
itic and Scythian names. " The Accadians," says Sayce, " were the 
inventors of the cuneiform system of writing, and the earliest pop- 
ulation of Babylonia of whom we know. They spoke an aggluti- 
native language, allied to Finnic or Tartar, and had originally come 
from the mountainous country to the southwest of the Caspian. 
The name Accada signifies ' highlander,' and the name of Accad is 
met with in the tenth chapter of Genesis."' The successive Assyr- 
ian, Babylonian, and Persian conquerors adopted the Accadian sys- 
tem of writing, and it became variously modified by each. 

The inscriptions thus far deciphered are mostly fragmentary, and 
the study of them has not yet been carried far enough 

. Inscriptions dG* 

to furnish a full account of all the tribes and languages ciphered most- 
they represent. But enough has already been placed lyfi^affmentary. 
within the reach of English readers to show that those ancient peo- 
ples had an extensive sacred literature. Their prayers and hymns 
and laws were graven on monumental tablets, often on the high 
rocks, and they are worthy to be compared "with the sacred books 
of other lands and nations.' 

The royal inscriptions on these monuments are noticeable for their 
religious character. Thousrh full of most pompous self ,. . 

^ . ° ^ ^ Religious tone 

assertion they abound with devout acknowledgments, of «ie myai in- 
showinsT that those ancient monarchs never hesitated to ^'''"'P^'^"^- 
confess their dependence on the jDOwers above. Witness the fol- 
lowing inscription of Khammurabi, who ruled in Babylonia some 
centuries before the time of Moses : 

Khammurabi the exalted king, the king of Babylon, the king renowned 
throughout the world; conqueror of the enemies of Marduk; the king be- 
loved l)y his heart am T. 

' " The Turanian people," says George Smith, " who appear to have been the origi- 
nal inhabitants of the country, invented the cuneiform mode of writing ; all the earli- 
est inscriptions are in that language, but the proper names of most of the kings and 
principal persons are written in Semitic, in direct contrast to the body of the inscrip- 
tions. The Semites appear to have conquered the Turanians, although they had not 
yet imposed their language on the country." Records of the Past, vol. iii, p. 3. 

'^ Preface to his translation of a Tablet of Ancient Accadian Laws, Records of the 
Past, vol. iii, p. 21. 

* A very convenient and valuable collection of these inscriptions, translated into 
English by leading oriental scholars, is published by Bagster & Sons, of Loudon, un- 
der the title of Records of the Past (12 volumes, 18v5-1881). Every alternate volume 
of the series contains translations from the Egyptian monuments. 


The favour of god and Bel the people of Sumir and Accad gave unto my 
government. Their celestial weapons unto my hand they gave. 

The canal Khammurabi, the joy of men, a stream of abundant waters, 
for the people of Sumir and Accad, I excavated. Its banks, all of tliem, I 
restored to newness; new supporting walls I heaped up; perennial waters 
for the people of Sumir and Accad I provided. 

The people of Sumir and Accad, all of them, in general assemblies I as- 
semljled. A review and inspection of them I ordained every year. In joy 
and abundance I watched over them, and in peaceful dwellings I caused 
them to dwell. 

By the divine favour I am Khammurabi the exalted king, the worshipper 
of the Supreme deity. 

Witli the prosperous power which Marduk gave me I built a lofty cita- 
del, on a high mound of earth, whose summits rose up like mountains, on 
tlie banks of Khammurabi river, the joy of men. 

To that citadel I gave the name of the mother who bore me and the 
father who begat me. In the holy name of Ri, the mother who bore me, 
and of the father who begat me, during long ages may it last I ' 

Similar devout acknowledgments are found in nearly all the royal 
annals. Sargon's great inscription on the palace of Khorsabad 
declares : 

The gods Assur, Nebo, and Merodach have conferred on me the royalty 
of the nations, and they have propagated the memory of my fortunate 
name to the ends of the earth. . . . The great gods have made me happy 
by tlie constancy of their affection, they have granted me the exercise of 
my sovereignty over all kings. ^ 

Other tablets contain a great variety of compositions. There are 
SDecimens of ^mythological stories, fables, proverbs, laws, contracts, 
psalms and deeds of sale, lists of omens and charms, legends of 
prajers. deities and spirits, and speculations in astrology. Not 

the least interesting among these records are the old Accadian and 
Assyrian hymns. Some of these remind us of the hymns of the 
Rig-Yeda. Some have the tone of penitential psalms. The fol- 
lowing is one of the best examples : 

my Lord I my sins are many, my trespasses are great; 
And the wrath of the gods has plagued me with disease, 
And with sickness and sorrow. 

1 fainted, but no one stretched forth his hand; 
I groaned, but no one drew nigh ; 

I cried aloud, but no one heard. 

' Translation by H. F. Talbot, Records of the Past, vol. i, pp. 7, 8. 
"^ Records of the Past, vol. ix, p. 3. 


O Lord ! do not abandon thy servant. 

In the waters of the great stoi'm seize his hand. 

The sins which he has committed, turn thou to righteousness.* 

The following prayer for a king is interesting both as an ex- 
ample of Assyrian sacred poetry, and as evidence of a belief in 
immortality : 

Length of days, 

Long- lasting years, 

A strong sword, 

A long life, 

Extended years of glory, 

Pre-eminence among kings. 

Grant ye to the king, my lord, 

"Who has given such gifts to his gods I 

The bounds vast and wide 

Of his empire and of his rule 

May he enlarge and may he complete. 

Holding over all kings supremacy. 

And royalty and empire, 

May he attain to gray hairs and old age ; 

And after the life of these days, 

In the feasts of the silver mountain,'' 

The heavenly courts. 

The abode of blessedness, 

And in the light of the Happy Fields, 

May he dwell a life eternal, holy, 

lu the presence of the gods 

Who inhabit Assyria.^ 

The following Chaldean account of the Creation is a translation, 
by H. F. Talbot, of the first and fifth Creation Tablets, chaWean ac- 
vfhich are preserved, though in a mutilated condition, ^0^° g,^^ ^^^^' 
in the British Museum : 

From the First Tablet. 
When the upper region was not yet called heaven, 
And the lower region was not yet called earth, 
And the abyss of Hades had not yet opened its arms, 
Then the chaos of waters gave birth to all of them. 
And the waters were gathered into one place. 
No men yet dwelt together; no animals yet wandered about; 

' Records of the Past, vol. ill, p. 136. 

' The Assyrian Olympus. The epithet silver was doubtless suggested by some 
snowy inaccessible peak, the supposed dwelling-place of the gods. 
^ Translated by Talbot, Records of the Past, vol. iii, pp. 133, 134. 


None of the gods had yet been born, 

Their names were not spoken ; their attributes were not known. 

Then tlie eldest of the gods, 

Lakhmu and Lakhanm were born, 

And o-rew up. . . . ' 

Assur and Kissur were born next, 

And lived througli long periods. 

Auu. . . . ^ 

From the Fifth Tablet. 

He constructed dwellings for the great gods. 

He fixed up constellations, whose figures were like animals. 

He made the year. Into four quarters he divided it. 

Twelve months he established, with their constellations, three by 

And for days of the year he appointed festivals. 
He made dwellings for the planets; for their rising and setting. 
And that nothing should go amiss, and tliat the course of none should 

Ije retarded, 
He placed with them the dwellings of Bel and Hea. 
He opened great gates on every side; 

He made strong the portals, on the left hand and on the right. 
In the centre he placed luminaries. 
The moon he appointed to rule the night. 
And to wander tlirough the night, until the dawn of day. 
Every month without fail lie made holy assembly days. 
In the beginning of the month, at the rising of the uiglit, 
It shot forth its liorns to illuminate the heavens. 
On the seventli day he appointed a holy day, 
And to cease from all business lie commanded. 
Then arose the sun in the horizon of heaven in (glory).* 

The mention here made of the seventh day as a holy day is iin- 
portant to the biblical theologian. " It has been known for some 
time," says Talbot, "that the Babylonians observed the Sabbath 
with considerable strictness. On that day the king was not allowed 
to take a drive in his chariot ; various meats were forbidden to be 
eaten, and there were a number of other minute restrictions. But 
it was not known that they believed the Sabbath to have been or- 
dained at the Creation. I have found, however, since this transla- 
tion of the fifth tablet was completed, that Mr. Sayce has recently 
published a similar ouinion." 

' Lacuna;. "■ Tlic rest of this tablet is lost. 

'Records of the Past, vol. ix, pp. 117, US. Compare the translation and comments 
of George Smith, Chalda;an Account of Genesis. New York, 1870. New Edition, 
revised, 1880. 


The following Accadian poem is supposed to be an ancient tradi- 
tion of the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah. Mr. . 

... Accadian le- 

Sayce, whose translation is here given, observes that gend of sodom 

"it seems merely a fragment of a legend, in which '^^'^^^o^orrah. 
the names of the cities were probably given, r.nd an explanation 
afforded of the mysterious personage, who, like Lot, appears to 
have escaped destruction. It must not be forgotten that the cam- 
paign of Chedorlaomer and his allies was directed against Sodom 
and the other cities of the j^lain, so that the existence of the legend 
among the Accadians is not so surprising as might ajDpear at first 

An overthrow from the midst of the deep there came. 

The fated punishment from the midst of heaven descended. 

A storm like a plummet the earth (overwhelmed). 

To the four winds the destroying flood like fire did burn. 

The inhabitants of the cities it had caused to be tormented ; their bodies 

it consumed. 
In city and country it spread death, and the flames as they rose overthrew. 
Freeman and slave were equal, and the high places it filled. 
In heaven and earth like a thunder-storm it had rained; a prey it made. 
A place of refuge the gods hastened to, and in a throng collected. 
Its mighty (onset) they fled from, and like a garment it concealed (mankind). 
They (feared), and death (overtook them). 

(Their) feet and hands (it embraced). * 

Their body it consumed. 

... ' the city, its foundation, it defiled. 

... Mn breath, his mouth he filled. 
As for this man, a loud voice was raised; the mighty lightning flash de- 
During the day it flashed ; grievously (it fell).' 


Similar to the above in general tone and character are the cune- 
iform accounts of the Deluge and the Tower of Babel. They are 
especially valuable in showing how the traditions of most ancient 
events were preserved among the scattered nations, and became 
modified in the course of ages. Notably inferior are these poetic 
legends to the calm and stately narratives of the book of Genesis, 
but they are, nevertheless, to be greatly prized. Were Assyriolo- 
gists to gather up, classify, and ai'range in proper order the relig- 
ious records of ancient Assyria and Babylonia, it would be seen 
that these hoary annals and hymns of departed nations furnish a 
sacred literature second in interest and value to none of the bibles 
of the Gentiles. 

•Lacunae. * Records of the Past, vol. xi, pp. 115-118. 


The Veda. 

The word Veda means knowledge, and is the Sanskrit equivalent 

of the Greek olda, I hnoio. It is often used to denote the entire 

body of Hindu sacred literature, which, according to the Brahmans, 

contains pre-eminently the knowledge which is important and wor- 

, ^ thv to be known. But the Vedas proper exist chiefly 

General char- •' . . . 

acter of the in the form ot lyrical poetrj^ and consist of four dis- 
Vedas. tinct Collections known as the Rig- Veda, the Sama- 

Veda, the Yajur-Veda, and the Atharva-Veda. These hymns are 
called Mantras, as distinguished from the prose annotations and 
disquisitions (Brahmanas), which were subsequently added to them. 
They are written in a dialect much older than the classical San- 
skrit, and are allowed on all hands to be among the most ancient 
and important monuments of literature extant in any nation or 
language. The four collections differ much, however, in age and 
value. The Rig- Veda is the oldest and most important, and con- 
sists of one thousand and twenty-eight hymns. Nearly half the 
hymns are addressed to either Indra, the god of light, or Agni, the 
god of fire. According to Professor Whitney, it " is doubtless a 
historical collection, prompted by a desire to treasure up comj)lete, 
and preserve from further corruption, those ancient and insj^ired 
songs which the Indian nation had brought with them, as their 
most precious possession, from the earlier seats of the race." ' The 
Sama-Veda is a liturgical collection, consisting largely of hj'nins 
from the Ilig-Veda, but arranged for ritual purposes. The Yajur- 
Veda is of a similar character, and consists of various formulas 
in prose and verse arranged for use at sacrificial services. The 
Atharva-Veda is the work o-f a later period, and never attained in 
India a rank equal to that of the other Vedas. In fact, says JMax 
-,..,, , Milller, "for tracing the earliest growth of religious 

Max Muller s . . . * . '^ ^ 

views of the ideas ill India, the only important, the only real Veda, 
Rig-Veda. .g ^i^g Rig- Veda. The other so-called Vedas, which 
deserve the name of Veda no more than the Talmud deserves the 
name of Bible, contain chiefly extracts from the Rig-Veda, together 
with sacrificial formulas, charms, and incantations, many of them, 
no doubt, extremely curious, but never likely to interest any one 
except the Sanskrit scholar by profession," * 

The same distinguished scholar elsewhere obser\'es: "The Veda 
has a twofold interest ; it belongs to the history of the world and 

' Oriental ami Linguistic Studios, p. 13. New York, 1873. 
' Chips from a German Workshop, vol. i, p. 8. 


to the history of India, In the history of the world the Veda fills 
a gap which no literary work in any other language could fill. 
It carries us back to times of which we have no records anywhere, 
and gives us the very words of a generation of men of whom other- 
wise we could form but the vaguest estimate by means of conjec- 
tures and inferences. As long as man continues to take an interest 
in the history of his race, and as long as we collect in libraries and 
museums the relics of former ages, the first place in that long row 
of books which contains the records of the Aryan branch of man- 
kind will belong forever to the Rig- Veda." ' 

Confining our observations, therefore, to the Rig- Veda, we note 

that it is in substance a vast book of psalms. Its one 

^1 3 J ^ ^ • 1 1 . / ; ^ . . The RlR-Veda 

thousand and twenty-eight lyrics {suktas), of various a vast book of 

length, are divided into ten books {mandalas, circles), p^^^I'^^- 
and together constitute a work about eight times larger than the 
one hundred and fifty Psalms of the Old Testament. The first 
book is composed of one hundred and ninety-one hymns, ^vliich are 
ascribed to some fifteen different authors {rlshis). The second 
book contains forty-three hymns, all of which are attributed to 
Gritsamada and his family. The next five books are also ascribed 
each to a single author or his family, and vary in the number of 
their hymns from sixty-two to one hundred and four. The eighth 
book has ninety-two hymns, attributed to a great nura- variety of vm- 
ber of different authors, a majority of whom are of the *^^^^- 
race of Kanva. The ninth book is also ascribed to various authors, 
and has one hundred and fourteen hymns, all of which are addressed 
to Soma as a god. "The name Soma," says Grassmann, "is derived 
from a root, su, which originally meant 'to beget,' 'to produce,' 
but in the Rig- Veda is a2:)plied altogether to the extracting and 
pressing of the plant used for the preparation of soma, and the 
soma itself therefore meant originally the juice obtained by this 
procedure,'"' The tenth book, like the first, contains one hundred 
and ninety-one hymns ; but they wear a different style, breathe a 
different spirit, and appear to belong to a much later period. " We 
find," says Grassmann, " in this, as in the first book, songs belong- 
ing to the springtime of vedic poesy, but also songs belonging to a 
time not very remote, as the time of the most recent period of vedic 
lyrics, such as presents itself to us in the Atharva-Veda." ^ 

1 History of Ancient Sanskrit Literature. Second Edition, p. 63. Lond., 18C0. 

"^ Grassmann's Rig-Veda. Metrical Version in German, with Critical and Explan- 
atory Annotations (2 vols. Lpz., 1876, 1877). Preface to Ninth Book, vol. iif 
p. 183. 

3 Rig- Veda. Preface to Tenth Book, vol. ii, p. 288. 


Our limits will allow its to present only a few specimens, but 
Specimens of these will suffice to show the general character and 
vedic Hymns, g^-yje of the best Rig-Veda hymns. The following is 
Max Miiller's translation of the fifty-third hymn of the first book, 
and is addressed to Indra : 

1. Keep silence well! we oflfer praises to the great Indra in the house of 
the saciificer. Does he find treasure for those who are like sleepers? 
Mean praise is not valued among the munificent. 

2. Thou art the giver of horses, Indra, thou art the giver of cows, the 
giver of corn, the strong lord of wealth; the old guide of man, disappoint- 
ing no desires, a friend to friends: — to him we address this song. 

3. O powerful Indra, achiever of many works, most brilliant god — all 
this wealth around here is known to be thine alone : take from it, conqueror, 
bring it hither 1 do not stint the desire of the worshipper who longs for 
thee ! 

4. On these days thou art gracious, and on these nights, keeping off the 
enemy from our cows and from our stud. Tearing the fiend night after 
night with the help of Indra, let us rejoice in food, freed from haters. 

5. Let us rejoice, Indra, in treasure and food, in wealth of manifold de- 
light and splendor. Let us rejoice in the blessing of the gods, wliich gives 
us the strength of offspring, gives us cows first and horses. 

6. These draughts inspired thee, O lord of the brave ! these were vigour, 
these libations, in battles, when for the sake of the poet, the sacrificer, 
thou struckest down irresistibly ten thousands of enemies. 

7. From battle to battle thou advancest bravely, from town to town thou 
destroyest all this with might, when thou, Indra, with Nami as thy friend, 
struckest down from afar the deceiver Namuki. 

8. Thou hast slain Karnaga and Parnaya with the brightest spear of 
Atithigva. Without a helper thou didst demolish the hundred cities of 
Vangrida, which were besieged by Rigisvan. 

9. Thou hast felled down with the chariot- wheel these twenty kings of 
men, who had attacked the friendless Susravas, and gloriously the sixty 
thousand and ninety-nine forts. 

10. Thou, Indra, hast succoured Susravas with thy succours, Turvayana 
with thy protections. Thou hast made Kutsa, Atithigva, and Ayu subject 
to tliis mighty youthful king. 

11. "We who in future, protected by the gods, wish to be thy most 
blessed friends, we shall praise thee, blessed by thee with offspring, and 
enjoying henceforth a longer life.' 

The following is a translation, by W. D. Whitney, of the eight- 
eenth hymn of the tenth book. It furnishes a vivid portraiture of 
the proceedings of an ancient Hindu burial, and holds even at the 
present day an important place among the funeral ceremonies of the 
Hindus. The officiating priest thus speaks : 

' Chips from a German Workshop, vol. i, pp. 30-33. 


1. Go forth, O Death, upon a distant pathway, 

one that's thine own, not that the jifods do travel; 
I speak to thee who eyes and ears possessest ; 

harm not our children, harm thou not our heroes. 

2. Ye who death's foot have clogged' ere ye came hither, 

your life and vigour longer yet retaining, 
Sating yourselves with progeny and riches, 

clean be ye now, and purified, ye oflFerers ! 

3. These have come here, not of the dead, but living; 

our worship of the gods hath been propitious; 
We've onward gone to dancing and to laughter, 

our life and vigour longer yet retaining.* 

4. This fix I as protection for the living; ^ 

may none of them depart on that same errand ; 
Long may they live, a hundred numerous autumns, 

'twixt death and them a mountain interposing. 

5. As day succeeds to day in endless series, 

as seasons happily move on with seasons, 
As each that passes lacks not its successor, 

so do thou make their lives move on, Creator I 

6. Ascend to life, old age your portion making, 

each after each, advancing in due order;* 
May Twashter, skilful fashioner, propitious, 

cause that you here enjoy a long existence. 

7. These women here, not widows, blessed with husbands, 

may deck themselves with ointment and with perfume; 
Unstained by tears, adorned, untouched with sorrow, 
the wives may first ascend unto the altar. 

8. Go up unto the world of life, O woman ! 

thou liest by one whose soul is fled ; come hither 1 
To him who grasps thy hand,^ a second husband, 

thou art as wife to spouse become related. 

' Allusion to the custom of attaching a clog to the foot of the corpse, as if thereby 
to secure the attendants at the burial from harm. 

2 The friends of the deceased seem to have no idea of soon sharing his fate ; they 
desire to banish the thought of death. 

2 The officiating priest drew a circle and set a stone between it and the grave, to 
symbolize the barrier which he would fain establish between the living and the dead. 

* Addressed to the attendants, who hereupon left their places about the bier, and 
went up into the circle marked off for the living. First the men went up, then the 
wives, and finally the widow. 

' The person who led the widow away was usually a brother-in-law, or a foster child. 


9. The bow from out the dead man's hand now taking/ 

that ours may be the glory, honour, prowess — 
Mayest thou there, we liere, rich in retainers, 

vanquish our foes and them that plot against us. 

10. Approach thou now the lap of earth, tliy mother, 

the wide-extending earth, the ever-kindly ; 
A maiden soft as wool to him who comes with gifts, 

she shall protect thee from destruction's bosom. 

11. Open thyself, O earth, and press not heavily; 

1^ easy of access and of approach to him ; 
As mother with her robe her child, 

so do thou cover him, O earth ! 

13. May earth maintain herself thus opened v/ide for him; 

a thousand props shall give support about him; 
And may those mansions ever drip with fatness; 

may they be there for evermore his refuge. 

13. Fortl) from about thee thus I build away the ground; 

as I lay down this clod may I receive no harm; 
This pillar may the Fathers here maintain for thee ; 

may Yama there provide for thee a dwelling. 

We add a single specimen more, a metrical version of the one 
handred and twenty-ninth hymn of the tenth book, which is espe- 
cially interesting as being full of profound speculation. "In judg- 
ing it," says Max Miiller, " we should bear in mind that it was not 
written by a gnostic or by a pantheistic philosopher, but by a poet 
who felt all these doubts and problems as his own, without any 
wish to convince or to startle, only uttering what had been weigh- 
ing on his mind, just as later poets would sing the doubts and sor- 
rows of their heart." 

Nor Aught nor Naught existed; yon bright sky 

Was not. nor heaven's broad woof outstretched above. 

What covered all? what sheltered? what concealed? 

Was it the water's fathomless abyss? 

Tiiere was not death — yet was there naught immortal, 

There was no confine betwixt day and night; 

* TJp to the moment of interment a bow was carried in the hand of the deceased. 
This was at last taken away to signify that his life-work was now done, and to others 
remained the plory of conquests. Tlie body was then tenderly committed to the earth. 
Compare Whitney's annotation.s on this hymn, and hi.s essay on the Vedic Doctrine of 
a Future Life in the Bibliotheca Sacra for April, 1859, and also in his Oriental and 
Linguistic Studies, pp. 46-63. New York, 1873. 


The only One breathed breathless by itself, 
Other than It there nothing since has been. 
Darkness there was, and all at first was veiled 
In gloom profound — an ocean without light — 
The germ that still lay covered in the husk 
Burst forth, one nature, from the fervent heat. 
Then first came love upon it, the new spring 
Of mind — yea, poets in their hearts discerned, 
Pondering, this bond between created things 
And uncreated. Comes this spark from earth 
Piercing and all-pervading, or from heaven? 
Then seeds were sown, and mighty powers arose — 
Nature below, and power and will above — 
Who knows the secret? who proclaimed it here, 
Wlience, whence this manifold creation sprang? 
The gods themselves came later into being — 
Who knows from whence this great cre;ition sprang? 
He from whom all this great creation came, 
Whether his will created or was mute, 
The Most High Seer that is in highest heaven. 
He knows it — or perchance even He knows not.' 

Every discerning reader must note the polytheistic teachings of 
the Veda. Mr. Hardwick calls attention to this in the following 
remarks: "If we lay aside expressions in the vedic hymns which 
have occasionally transferred the attributes of power ^^ ^^^^^ 
and omnipresence to some one elemental deity, as In- mainly poiy- 
dra, for example, and by so doing intimated that, even ^^^i^tic. 
in the depths of nature- worship, intuitions pointing to one great and 
all-embracing Spirit could not be extinguished, there are scarcely a 
dozen 'mantras' in the whole collection where the unity of God is 
stated with an adequate amount of firmness and consistency. The 
great mass of those productions either invoke the aid, or deprecate 
the wrath of multitudinous deities, who elsewhere are regarded as 
no more than finite emanations from the 'lord of the creatures;' 
and therefore in the sacred books themselves polytheism was the 
feature ever prominent, and, what is more remarkable, was never 
openly repudiated." * 

' Chips from a German Workshop, vol. i, pp. '76, 77. 

* Christ and other Masters, p. 184. Compare Introduction to the several volumes 
of Wilson's Translation of the Rig- Veda, and Colebrook's Essay on the Vedas, first 
published in the Asiatic Researches, and later in his collected works. Lond., 1873. 
On the translation and interpretation of the Veda, see Muir, in Journal of the Royal 
Asiatic Society (Lond., 1866), and Whitney, in the North American Review (1868); 
also in his Oriental and Linguistic Studies, pp. 100-132. 


The Buddhist CANOif. 

Buddhism in India was a revolt from Brahmanism. Its founder 
Life and influ- Avas Sakya-muni, sometimes called Gautama, being of 

ence of sakya- ^j^g family of the Sakyas, and the clan of the Gautamas, 

auni, or Bud- •' , . "^ . 

dha. and belonging by birth to the warrior class (Kshatriya). 

Stripping the story of his life of the numerous fables and supersti- 
tious legends of later times, it would appear that this distinguished 
child of the Sakyas grew up a beautiful and accomplished youth, 
but took no interest in the common amusements of the young, and 
gave himself much to solitude and meditation. The problems of 
life and death and human suffering absorbed his inmost being. He 
at length forsook parents and wife and home, and, after years of 
study, penances, and austere self-denial, attained the conviction 
that he must go forth among men as an Enlightener and Reformer. 
Max Miiller says : " After long meditations and ecstatic visions, he 
at last imagined that he had arrived at that true knowledge which 
discloses the cause and thereby destroys the fear of all the changes 
inherent in life. It was from the moment when he arrived at this 
knowledge that he claimed the name of Buddha, the Enlightened. 
At that moment we may truly say that the fate of millions of mill- 
ions of human beings trembled in the balance. Buddha hesitated 
for a time whether he should keep his knowledge to himself, or 
communicate it to the world. Compassion for the sufferings of 
man prevailed, and the young prince became the founder of a 
religion which, after more than 2000 years, is still professed by 
455,000,000 of human beings." ' 

Sakya-muni's life, according to the best authorities, extended 
Buddha a Re- over the latter part of the sixth and the first half of the 
former. fifth century before Christ. He broke with Brahman- 

ism from the first, and pronounced himself against the Vedas, the 
system of caste, and sacrifices. How far Kapila's system of the 
Sankhya philosophy may have been a preparation for Buddhism is a 
question,'' but that Buddha became a mighty reformer, and that his 
system almost succeeded for a time in overthro\Wng Brahmanism in 
India, are matters of history. " The human mind in Asia," observes 
J. F. Clarke, "went through the same course of experience after- 
ward repeated in Europe. It protested, in the interest of humanity, 
against the oppression of a priestly caste. Brahmanism, like the 
Church of Rome, established a system of sacramental salvation in 

' Essay on Buddhism, in Chips from a German Workshop, vol. i, p. 211. 
^ Comp. Hard wick, Christ and other Masters, pp. 147-169 ; and Miillcr's Chips from 
a German Workshop, vol. i, pp. 222-226, 


the hands of a sacred order. Buddhism, like Protestantism, re- 
volted, and established a doctrine of individual salvation based on 
personal character. Brahmanism, like the Church of Rome teaches 
an exclusive spiritualism, glorifying penances and martyrdom and 
considers the body the enemy of the soul. But Buddhism and 
Protestantism accept nature and its laws, and make a relioion of 
humanity as well as of devotion. To such broad statements numer- 
ous exceptions may doubtless be always found, but these are the 
large lines of distinction." ' 

The sacred . scriptures of Buddhism are commonly called the 
Tripitaka, which means the " three baskets," or three compilation of 
collections of religious documents. Buddha, like Jesus, t^e Tripitaka. 
left no written statement of his teachings ; but very soon after his 
death, accordmg to tradition, a great council was called (about 
B. C. 477), at whioh the sayings of the great master were written 
down with care, A hundi-ed years later another council assembled, 
to consider and correct certain deviations from the original faith. 
But it was probably not until a third council, convened by King 
Asoka about B. C. 242, that the Buddhist canon in its present form 
was completed.'' At that great council King Asoka, "the Indian 
Constantino," admonished the members of the assembly "that what 
had been said by Buddha, that alone was well said;" and at the 
same time he provided for the projDagation of Buddhism by mis- 
sionary enterprise. And it is worthy of note that, as Christianity 
originated among the Jews, but has had its chief triumphs among 
the Gentiles, so Buddhism ox'iginated among the Hindus, but has 
won most of its adherents among other tribes and nations. 

The Tripitaka, as we now possess it, consists of the Vinaya- 
Pitaka, devoted to ethics and discipline; the Sutra- ^^^^^^^^^ ^^^ 
Pitaka, containing the Sutras, or discourses of Buddha; magnitude of 
and the Abhidharma-Pitaka, which treats of dogmatical "'*^ Tripitaka. 
philosophy and metaphysics.' The entire collection constitutes an 
immense body of literature, rivaling in magnitude all that was ever 
included under the title of Yeda. It is said to contain 29,368,000 
letters, or more than seven times the number contained in our Eng- 
lish Bible. The Tibetan edition of the Tripitaka fills about three 
hundred and twenty-five folio volumes. The mere titles of the 
divisions, sub-divisions, and chapters of this Buddhist canon would 
cover several pages. The greater portion of this immense litera- 

J Ten Great Religions, pp. 142, 143. Boston, 1871. 

* See Oldenberg's Introduction to the Vinaya-Pitaka, and Miiller's Introduction to 
the Dhammapada, in vol. x, of Sacred Books of the East. 

^ Comp. Chapter xviir of Spence Hardy, Eastern Monachism. Lond., 1850. 


ture, in its most ancient texts, exists as yet only in manuscript. 
But as Buddhism spread and triumphed mightily in southern and 
eastern Asia, its sacred books have been translated into Pali, Bur- 
mese, Siamese, Tibetan, Chinese, and other Asiatic tongues. In 
fact, every important nation or tribe, which has adopted Buddhism, 
appears to have a more or less complete Buddhist literature of its 
own, and the names of the different books and treatises vary accord- 
in ^t to the lanwuaffes in which they are extant.' Amid the multi- 
plicity of texts and versions it is impossible now to point with con- 
fidence to any authoritative original ; but the form of the canon as 
it exists among the Southern Buddhists, and especially in the Pali 
texts, is esteemed most highly by scholars. 

The fundamental doctrines of Buddhism are few and simple, and, 
^. . , ^ in substance, may be briefly stated as consisting of the 

Principal doe- ' j J ■ /-^ 

trines of Bud- Four Verities, the Eightfold Path, and the Five Com- 
dhism. mandments. The Four sublime Verities are, (1) All ex- 

istence, being subject to change and decay, is evil. (2) The source 
of all this evil and consequent sorrow is desire. (3) Desire and the 
evil which follows it may be made to cease, (i) There is a fixed 
and certain way by which to attain exemption from all evil. The 
Eightfold Path consists of (1) Right Belief, (2) Right Judgment, 
(3) Right Utterance, (4) Right Motives, (5) Right Occupation, 
(6) Right Obedience, (7) Right Memory, and (8) Right Meditation. 
The Five Commandments are, (1) Do not kill; (2) Do not steal; 
(3) Do not lie; (4) Do not become intoxicated; (5) Do not commit 
adultery. There are also five other well-known precepts, which 
have not, however, the grade of the commandments, namely, (1) Do 
not take solid food after noon; (2) Do not visit scenes of amuse- 
ment; (3) Do not use ornaments or perfumery in dress; (4) Do not 
use luxurious beds; (5) Do not accept gold or silver.'* 
Specimens of Bud- T'^© following passage from the first chapter of the 
dha-s discourses. Maha-Parinibbana-Sutta, one of the subdivisions of 
the Sutra-Pitaka, is a specimen of the discourses of Buddha : 

And tlie Blessed One arose, and went to the Service Hall ; and when he 
was seated, he addressed the bretliren, and said : 

"I will teach you, O mendicants, seven conditions of the welfare of a 
community. Listen well and attend, and I will speak." 

1 Thus the Sanskrit name Tripitaka becomes Tipltaka and Pitakattaya in Pali, and Tun- 
pitaka in Singhalese. Buddhism itself becomes Foism in China, and Lamaism in Thibet. 

- For an extensive presentation of tlie doctrines and usages of Ruddliism, see Spence 
Uardy, Eastern Monachisni ; also liis Manual of Buddhism, New Edition, Lond., 1880. 
Edwin Arnold has beautifully expressed in poetical form the leading doctrines of 
Buddha, in the eiglith book of his Light of Asia. , 


"Even so, Lord," said the Brethren, in assent, to the Blessed One; and 
he spake as follows : 

" So long, O mendicants, as the brethren meet together in full and fre- 
quent assemblies — so long as they meet together in concord, and rise in 
concord, and carry out in concord the duties of the order — so long as the 
brethren shall establish nothing that has not been already prescribed, and 
abrogate nothing that has been already established, and act in accordance 
with the rules of the order us now laid down — so long as the brethren hon- 
our and esteem and revere and support the elders of experience and long 
standing, the fathers and leaders of the order, and hold it a point of duty 
to hearken to their words — so long as the brethren fall not under the influ- 
ence of that craving which, springing up within them, would give lise to 
renewed existence— so long as the brethren delight in a life of solitude— so 
long as the brethren so train their minds that good and holy men shall 
come to them, and those who have come shall dw^ell at ease — so long may 
the brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper. 

"So long as these seven conditions shall continue to exist among the 
brethren, so long as they are -well instructed in these conditions, so long 
may the brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper." 

" Other seven conditions of welfare will I teach you, O brethren. Listen 
well, and attend, and I will speak." 

And on their expressing their assent, he spake as follows: 

'' So long as the brethren shall not engage in, or be fond of, or be con- 
nected with business — so long as the brethren shall not be in the habit of, 
or be fond of, or be partakers in idle talk — so long as the brethren shall 
not be addicted to, or be fond of, or indulge in slothf ulness — so long as the 
brethren shall not frequent, or be fond of, or indulge in society— so long 
as the brethren shall neither have, nor fall under the influence of, sinful 
desires — so long as the brethren shall not become the friends, companions, 
or intimates of sinners — so long as the brethren shall not come to a stop on 
their way [to Nirvana] because they have attained to any lesser thing— so 
long may the brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper. 

'•So long as these conditions shall continue to exist among the brethren, 
so long as they are instructed in these conditions, so long may the brethren 
be expected not to decline, but to prosper." 

" Other seven conditions of welfare will I teach you, brethren. Listen 
w-ell, and attend, and I will speak." 

And on their expressing their assent, he spake as follows: 

" So long as the brethren shall be full of faith, modest in heart, afraid 
of sin, full of learning, strong in energy, active in mind, and full of wis- 
dom, so long may the bretliren be expected not to decline, but to prosper, 

" So long as these conditions shall continue to exist among the brethren, 
so long as they are instructed in these conditions, so long may the brethren 
be expected not to decline, but to prosper." 

" Other seven conditions of welfare will I teach you, O brethren. Listen 
well, and attend, and I will speak." 

And on their expressing their assent, he spake as follows: 

" So long as the brethren shall exercise themselves in the sevenfold higher 


■wisdom, that is to say, in mental activity, search after truth, energy, joy, 
peace, earnest contemplation, and equanimity of mind, so long may the 
brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper. 

" So long as these conditions shall continue to exist among the brethren, 
so long as they are instructed in these conditions, so long may the brethren 
be expected not to decline, but to prosper." 

" Other seven conditions of welfare will I teach you, O brethren. Listen 
well, and attend, and I will speak." 

And on their expressing their assent, he spake as follows : 

*'So lono- as the brethren shall exercise themselves in the sevenfold per- 
ception due to earnest thought, that is to say, the perception of iraperma- 
nency, of non-individuality, of corruption, of the danger of sin, of sanctifica- 
tion, of purity of heart, of Nirvana, so long may the brethren be expected 
not to decline, but to prosper. 

" So long as these conditions shall continue to exist among the brethren, 
so long as they are instructed in these conditions, so long may the brethren 
be expected not to decline, but to prosper." 

" Six conditions of welfare will I teach you, O brethren. Listen well, 
and attend, and I will speak." 

And on their expressing their assent, he spake as follows: 

*' So long as the brethren shall persevere in kindness of action, speech, 
and thought among the saints, both in public and in private — so long as 
they shall divide without partiality, and share in common with the up- 
right and the holy, all such things as they receive in accordance with the 
just provisions of the order, down even to the mere contents of a begging 
bowl — so long as the brethren shall live among the saints in the practice, 
both in public and in private, of those virtues which (unbroken, intact, un- 
spotted, unblemished) are productive of freedom, and praised by the wise; 
which are untarnished by the desire of future life, or by the belief in the 
efficacy of outward acts; and which are conducive to high and holy 
thoughts — so long as the brethren shall live among the saints, cherishing, 
botli in public and in private, that noble and saving faith wliich leads to 
the complete destruction of the sorrow of him who acts according to it — so 
long may the brethren be expected not to decline, but to prosper. 

"So long as these six conditions shall continue to exist among the 
brethren, so long as they are instructed in these six conditions, so long 
may the brethren be expected not to decline, but to jirosper." 

And while the Blessed One stayed there at Ragagaha on the Vulture's 
Peak he held that comprehensive religious talk with tlie brethren on the 
nature of upright conduct, and of earnest contemplation, and of intelli- 
gence. "Great is the fruit, great the advantage of earnest contemplation 
when set round with upright conduct. Great is the fruit, great the advan- 
tage of intellect wlien set round with earnest contemplation. Tlie mind 
set round with intelligence is freed from the great evils, that is to say, from 
sensuality, from individuality, from delusion, and from ignorance."* 

' Biuklhist Suttas, translated from Pali, by T. W. Rhys Davids, pp. 6-11, vol. xi, of 
Sacred Books of the Eiist. Oxford, 1881. 


The following is the twentieth chapter of the Dhammapada, an- 
other subdivision of the Sutra-Pitaka : 

The best of ways is the eightfold ; the best of truths the four words ; tho 
best of virtues passionlessness ; the best of men he who has eyes to see. 

This is the way. there is no other that leads to the purifying of intelli- 
gence. Go on this way I Everything else is the deceit of Mara (the tempter). 

If you go on this way, you will make an end of pain! The way was 
preached by me, when I had understood the removal of the thorns (in the 

You yourself must make an effort. The Tathagatas (Buddhas) are only 
preachers. The thoughtful who enter the way are freed from the bondage 
of Mara. 

"All created things perish," he who knows and sees this becomes passive 
in pain ; this is the way to purity. 

"All created things are grief and pain," he who knows and sees this be- 
comes passive in pain ; this is the way that leads to purity. 

"All forms are unreal," he who knows and sees this becomes passive in 
pain; this is the way that leads to purity. 

He who does not rouse himself when it is time to rise, who, though 
young and strong, is full of sloth, whose will and thought are weak, that 
lazy and idle man will never find the way to knowledge. 

Watching his speech, well restrained in mind, let a man never commit 
any wrong with his body! Let a man keep these three roads of action 
clear, and he will achieve the way which is taught by the wise. 

Through zeal knowledge is gotten, through lack of zeal knowledge is 
lost; let a man who knows this double path of gain and loss thus place 
himself that knowledge may grow. 

Cut down the whole forest (of lust), not a tree only! Danger comes out 
of the forest (of lust). When you have cut down both the forest (of lust) 
and its undergrowth, then, Bhikshus, you will be rid of the forest and free! 

So long as the love of man toward women, even the smallest, is not de- 
stroyed, so long is his mind in bondage, as the calf that drinks milk is to 
its mother. 

Cut out the love of self, like an autumn lotus, with thy hand ! Cherish 
the road of peace. Nirvana has been shown by Sugata (Buddha). 

"Here I shall dwell in the rain, here in winter and summer," thus the 
fool meditates, and does not think of his death. 

Death comes and carries off that man, praised for his children and flocks, 
his mind distracted, as a flood carries off' a sleeping village. 

Sons are no help, nor a father, nor relations; there is no help from kins- 
folk for one whom death has seized. 

A wise and good man who knows the meaning of this, should quickly 
clear the way that leads to Nirvana.* 

' The Dhammapada, translated by F. Max Miiller, pp. 67-69, vol. x, of Sacred Books 
of the East. Oxford, 1881. Published also along with Rogers' translation of Buddha- 
ghosha's Parables (Lond., 1870), and Miiller'a Lectures on the Science of Religion. 
New York, 1872. 


Chinese Sacred Books. 

Three diverse religious systems prevail in China — Buddhism, 
Three reii^ons Taoism, and Confucianism, each of which has a vast 
of cbina. multitude of adherents. The sacred books of the first 

named consist of translations of the Buddhist canon from various 
languages of India, principally, however, from the Sanskrit, and 
need no separate notice here.' The great book of Taoism is the 
Tao-teh-King, a production of the celebrated philosopher Laotsze, 
who was born about six hundred years before the Christian era. 
The sacred books of Confucianism are commonly known as the five 
King and the four Shu. 

The Tao-teh-King is scarcely entitled to the name of a sacred 
The Tao-teh- book. It is rather a philosophical treatise, by an acute 
King. speculative mind, and resembles some of the subtle por- 

tions of Plato's dialogues. It is about the length of the book of 
Ecclesiastes, to which it also bears some resemblance. But it is de- 
nied, on high authority, that there is any real connexion between 
Taoism as a religion now prevalent in China and this book of 
Laotsze.'' The Tao-teh-King has been divided into eighty-one 
short chapters, and is devoted to the inculcation and praise of Avhat 
the author calls his Tao. What all this word is designed to rep- 
resent is very difficult, if not impossible, to determine. In the In- 
troduction to his translation of the work, Chalmers says : " I have 
thought it better to leave the word Tao untranslated, both because 
The meaning it lias given the name to the sect (the Taoists), and be- 
of Tao. cause no English word is its exact equivalent. Three 

terms suggest themselves — the Waj^, Reason, and the Word ; but 
they are all liable to objection. Were we guided by etymology, 
'the Way,' would come nearest to the original, and in one or two 
passages the idea of a loay seems to be in the term; but this is too 
materialistic to serve the purpose of a translation. ' Reason,' again, 
seems to be more like a quality or attribute of some conscious being 
than Tao is. I would translate it by 'the Word,' in the sense of 
the Logos, but this would be like settling the question which I wish 
to leave open, viz., what amount of resemblance there is between 
the Logos of the New Testament and this Tao, Avhich is its nearest 
representative in Chinese. In our version of the New Testament 

' Tlie extent of this literatiire may be seen*in Beal's Catena of Buddhist Scriptures 
from the Chinese. Lond., 1871. 

' See Legge, Lectures on the Religions of China. Lecture 3d, on Taoism as a Re- 
ligion and a Philosophy. New York, 1881. 


in Chinese vre have in the first chapter of John, ' In the beginning 
was Tao,^ etc." * 

Others have sought by other terms to express the idea of Tao. 
It has been called the Supreme Reason, the Universal Soul, tlie 
Eternal Idea, the Nameless Void, Mother of being, and Laotsze's ac- 
Essence of things. The following is from Laotsze him- count of xao. 
self, and one of the best specimens of his book, being the whole of 
chapter twenty-fifth, as translated by Chalmers : 

There was something chaotic in nature which existed before heaven and 
eartli. It was still. It was void. It stood alone and was not changed. 
It pervaded everywhere and was not endangered. It may be regarded as 
the mother of the universe. I know not its name, but give it the title of 
Tao. If I am forced to make a name for it, I say it is Great; being great, 
I say that it passes away; passing away, I say that it is far ofi; being far 
off, I say that it returns. Now Tao is great; heaven is great; earth is 
great; a king is great. In the universe there are four greatnesses, and a 
king is one of them. Man talces his law from the earth; the earth takes its 
law from heaven ; heaven takes its law from Tao ; and Tao takes its law from 
what it is in itself. 

The moral teachings of the book may be seen in chapters sixty- 
third and sixty-seventh, which are thus translated by Legge : 

(It is the way of Tao) not to act from any personal motive; to conduct 
affairs witliout feeling the trouble of them; to taste wdthout being aware 
of tlie flavour: to account the great as small and the small as great; to 
recompense injury with kindness. 

(The follower of Tao) anticipates things that would 1)ecome difficult 
while they are easy, and does things that would become great while they 
are little. The difficult things in the world arise from what are easy, and 
the great things from what are small. Thus it is that the sage never does 
what is great, and therefore can accomplish the greatest thingSL 

He who assents lightly will be found to keej) but little faith. He who 
takes many things easily is sure to meet with many difficulties. Hence the 
sage sees difficulty in (what seem) easy things, and therefore never has any 

All in the world say that my Tao is great, but that I seem to be inferior 
to others. Now it is just this greatness which makes me seem inferior to 
others. Those who are deemed equal to others have long been — small men. 

But there are three precious things which I prize and hold fast. The 
first is gentle compassion; the second is economy; the third is (humility), 
not presuming to take precedence in the world. With gentle compassion 
I can be brave. With economy I can be liberal. Not presuming to claim 

' The Speculations on Metaphysics, Polity, and Morality, of " the Old Philosopher," 
Laotsze ; translated from the Chinese, with an Introduction by John Chalmers, A.M., 
pp. xi, xii. Lond., 1868. 


precedence in the workl, I can make myself a vessel fit for the most distin- 
guished services. Now-a-days they give up gentle compassion, and culti- 
vate (mere physical) courage ; they give up economy, and (try to be) lavish 
(without it); they give up being last, and seek to be first: — of all wliich 
tlie end is deatli. Gentle compassion is sure to overcome in fight, and to 
be firm in maintaining its own. Heaven will save its possessor, protecting 
bim by his gentleness.* 

It has been disputed whether the Tao-teh-King acknowledges 
Leaves the per- the existence of a personal God. Professor Douglas 
of^GoTdoubt! tleclares that Laotsze knew nothing of such a being, 
fui. and that the whole tenor of his philosophy antagonizes 

such a belief. Legge, on the other hand, affirms that the Tao-teh- 
King does recognize the existence of God, but contains no direct 
religious teaching. Laotsze's Taoism, he observes, is the exhibition 
of a way or method of living which men should cultivate as the 
highest and purest development of their nature. It has served as 
a discipline of mind and life for multitudes, leading some to with- 
draw entirely from the busy world, and others to struggle earnestly 
to keep themselves from the follies and passions of reckless and 
ambitio;is men. The highest moral teaching of Laotsze is found in 
the chapter sixty-third, quoted above, in which he says that Tao 
prompts " to recompense injury with kindness." In this particular 
he surpassed Confucius, whose great glory it was to enunciate, in 
negative form, the golden rule, " What you do not want done to 
yourself, do not do to others." Confucius confessed that he did 
not always keep his own rule, much less could he adopt the loftier 
precept of Laotsze, but said rather, "Recompense injury with jus- 
tice, and return good for good." * 

Far more extensive and important, however, taken as a whole, 
Confucius and are the sacred books of Confucianism, which is par ex- 
cifineseTcrip"- ^^^^^^^^ ^^^ religion of the Chinese Empire. But Con- 
ures. fucius was not the founder of the religion which has 

become attached to his name. He claimed merely to have studied 
deeply into antiquity, and to be a transmitter and teacher of the 
records and worship of the past. " It is an error," says Legge, 
" to suppose that he compiled the historical documents, poems, and 
other ancient books from various works existing in his time. Por- 
tions of the oldest works had already perished. His study of those 
that remained, and his exhortations to his disciples also to study 
them, contributed to their preservation. What he wrote or said 
about their meaning should be received by us with reverence ; but 

' Lectures on the Relig-lons of China, ]ip. 222-224. 
' Comp. Legge, Ibid., pp. 143 and passim. 


if all the works which he handled had come down to us entire, we 
should have been, so far as it is possible for foreigners to be, in the 
same position as he was for learning the ancient religion of his 
country. Our text-books would be the same as his. Unfortunate- 
ly most of the ancient books suffered loss and injury after Confu- 
cius had passed from the stage of life. We have reason, however 
to be thankful that we possess so many and so much of them. No 
other literature, comparable to them for antiquity, has come down 
to us in such a state of preservation." ' 

The five King are known respectively as the Shu, the Shih, the 
Yi, the Li Ki, and the Khun Khiu.^ The name King, Names of the 
which means a web of cloth, or the warp which keeps ^^'^ King. 
the threads in place, came into use in the time of the Han dynasty, 
about B. C. 200, and was applied by the scholars of this period to 
the most valuable ancient books, which were regarded as having a 
sort of canonical authority. 

The Shu King is a book of historical documents, somewhat re- 
sembling the various historical portions of the Old 
Testament, and is believed to be the oldest of all the '^^^ ^^" ^'''^^ 
Chinese books. Its contents relate to a period extending over sev- 
enteen centuries, from about B. C. 2357 to B. C. G27. It commences 
with an account of Yao, the most venerable of the ancient kings, of 
whom it is written : " He was reverential, intelligent, accomplished, 
and thoughtful, — naturally and without effort. He was sincerely 
coxarteous, and capable of all complaisance. The bright influence 
of these qualities was felt through the four quarters of the land, 
and reached to heaven above and earth beneath. He made the 
able and virtuous distinguished, and thence proceeded to the love 
of all in the nine classes of his kindred, who thus became harmoni- 
ous. He also regulated and polished the people of his domain, who 
all became brightly intelligent. Finally, he united and harmonized 
the myriad states; and so the black-haired people were transformed. 
Tl*e result was universal concord." 

The Shu King is about equal in extent to the two books of 
Chronicles, and is divided into five parts, which are designated re- 
spectively, the books of Thang, Yu. Hsia, Shang, and Kau. These 
are the names of so many different ancient dynasties which ruled in 
China, and the several books consist of the annals, speeches, counsels, 
and proclamations of the great kings and ministers of the ancients. 

' Preface to his translation of the Shu King in vol. iii of the Sacred Books of the 
East, as edited by Max Miiller. 

"^ We here adopt the orthography followed by Legge in his translations for the Sa- 
cred Books of the East. 


The following passage is one of the most favourable specimens, and 
illustrates the tone and character of Chinese morality, and their 
most popular conceptions of virtue. It is from the third book 
of Part II, which is entitled " The Counsels of Kao-yao." Kao- 
yao was the minister of crime iinder the reign of the great Emperor 
Shun (about 2300 B. C), and is celebrated as a model administrator 
of justice • 

Kao-yao said, "O! there are in all nine virtues to be discovered in con- 
duct, and when we say that a man possesses (any) virtue, that is as much 
as to say he does such and such things." Yu asked, "What (are the nine 
virtues)?" Kao-yao replied, "Affability combined with dignity ; mildness 
combined with firmness; bluntness combined with respectfulness; aptness 
for government combined with reverent caution ; docility combined with 
boldness; straightforwardness combined with gentleness; an easy negli- 
gence combined with discrimination; boldness combined with sincerity; 
and valour comlMned with righteousness. (Wlien these qualities are) dis- 
played, and that continuously, have we not the good (officer)? When there 
is a daily display of three (of these) virtues, their possessor could early and 
late regulate and brighten the clan (of which he was made chief). When 
there is a daily severe and reverent cultivation of six of them, their pos- 
sessor could brilliantly conduct the affairs of the state (with which he was 
invested). Wlien (such men) are all received and advanced, the possessors 
of those nine virtues will be employed in (the public) service. The men 
of a thousand and men of a hundred will be in their offices ; the various 
ministers will emulate one another; all the officers will accomplish their 
duties at the proper times, observant of the five seasons (as the several 
elements predominate in them), — and thus their various duties will be fully 
accomplished. Let not (the Son of Heaven) set to the holders of states the 
example of indolence or dissoluteness. Let him be wnry and fearful (re- 
membering that) in one day or two days there may occur ten thousand 
springs of things. Let him not have his various officers cumberers of their 
places. The work is Heaven's ; men must act for it ! " 

A passage in Part V, Book 4, thus enumerates the five sources 
of haj)piness, and the six extreme evils : • 

The first is long life; the second, riches; the third, soundness of body 
and serenity of mind ; the fourth, the love of virtue; and the fifth, fulfilling 
to the end the will of Heaven. Of the six extreme evils, the first is mis- 
fortune sliortening life; tlie second, sickness; tlie third, distress of mind; 
the fourth, poverty; the fifth, wickedness; the sixth, weakness. 

The Shih King is a book of poetry, and contains three hundred 
and five pieces, commonly called odes. It is the ]>salter 

TheShlhKlng. „. ^l. , ., , , • . r i n i w' +^ 

of the Chmese bible, and consists ot ballads relating to 
customs and events of Chinese antiquity, and songs and hymns to 


be sung on great state occasions and in connexion with sacrificial 
services.' The following is a fair examj^le of the odes used in con- 
nexion with the worship of ancestors. A young king, feeling his 
responsibilities, would fain follow the example of his father, and 
prays to him for help : 

I take counsel, at tlie beginning of my rule, 
How I can follow the example of my shrined father. 
All ! far-reaching were his plans, 
And I am not yet able to carry them out. 
However, I endeavour to reach to them, 
My continuation of them will still be all-deflected. 
I am a little cliild. 

Unequal to the many difficulties of the state. 
Having taken bis place, I will look for him to go up 

and come down in the court. 
To ascend and descend in the house. 
Admirable ait thou, O great Father; 
Condescend to preserve and enlighten me." 

The Yi King is commonly called "the Book of Changes," from 
its supposed illustrations of the onward course of nature 

TIT • n ^ iTTT • The Yi King. 

and the changing customs of the world. It contams 
eight trigrams, ascribed to Fuhsi, the mythical founder of the 
Chinese nation, and hence some have believed it to be the oldest of 
all the Chinese scriptures. But according to Legge, " not a single 
character in the Yi is older than the twelfth century B. C. The 
text of it, not taking in the appendices of Confucius, consists of 
two portions — from king Wan, and from his son, the duke of 
Chan. The composition of Wan's portion is referred to the year 
B. C. 1143. As an authority for the ancient religion of China, 
therefore, the Yi is by no means equal to the Shu and the Shih. 
It is based on diagrams, or lineal figures, ascribed to Fuhsi, and 

made up of whole and divided lines ( and ). What their 

framer intended by these figures we do not know. No doubt there 
was a tradition about it, and I am willing to believe that it found 
a home in the existing Yi. . . . The character called Yi is the 
Bvmbol for the idea of chansje. The fashion of the world is con- 
tinually being altered. We have action and re-action, flux and 
reflux — now one condition, and immediately its opposite. The 

' See The Shih King ; or the Book of Ancient Poetry, translated into English Verse, 
with Essays and Notes, by James Legge. Lend., IS'TG. 

2 Decade III, Ode 2, p. 829, Sacred Books of the East, vol. iii. Oxford, 1879. 

^ The Yi King is translated and annotated by Legge in vol. xvi of the Sacred Books 
of the East. Oxford, 1882. 


vicissitudes in the worlds of sense and society have their correspon- 
.dencies in the changes that take place in the lines of the diagrams. 
Again, certain relations and conditions of men and things lead to 
good, are fortunate; and certain others lead to evil, are unfortunate; 
and these results are indicated by the relative position of the lines* 
Those lines were systematically changed by manipulating with a 
fixed number of the stalks of a certain plant. In this way the Yi 
served the purpose of divination; and since such is the nature of 
the book, a reader must be prepared for much in it that is tantaliz- 
ing, fantastic, and perplexing.'" 

The two remaining classics are of less interest and imjiortance. 
The Li Ki and The Li Ki King is a record of rites, consisting of three 
theKhunKWu. collections, called "the Three Rituals," and is the most 
bulky of the Five King. It contains regulations for the administra- 
tion of the government, describes the various officers and their 
duties, and the rules of etiquette by which scholars and officers 
should order their conduct on social and state occasions. The 
Khun Khiu King is of the nature of a supplement to the historical 
annals of the Shu King. It was compiled by Confucius from the 
annals of his native state of Lu, and extends from the year B. C. 722 
to B. C. 481. 

The Chinese classics known as "the Four Shu" have not the 
rank and autliority of the Five King. They are the works of dis- 
ciples of Confucius, and consist (1) of the Lun Yu, or Discourses 
of Confucius and conversations between him and his followers ; 
(2) the works of Mencius, next to Confucius the greatest sage and 
teacher of Confucianism; (3) the Ta Ilsio, or Great Learning, 
ascribed to Tszang-tsze, a disciple of Confucius ; and (4) the Kung 
Yung, or Doctrine of the Mean, a production of Tszesze, the grand- 
son of Confucius.'^ There is also the Hsiao King, or Classic of 
Filial Piety, ^vhich holds a high place in Chinese literature.' 

In the preface to his translation of the Sacred Books of China, 
Legge observes, "that the ancient books of China do not profess to 
have been inspired, or to contain what we should call a Revelation. 
Historians, poets, and others wrote them as they were moved in 
their own minds. An old poem may occasionally contain what it 
says was spoken by God, but we can only understand that language 
as calling attention emphatically to the statement to which it is 

1 The Religions of China, pp. 37, 38. 

' See The Chinese Classics, with a Translation, Critical and Exegetical Notes, Pro- 
legomena, and copious Indexes. Hong Kong, 1861-1865. 

' The Hsiao King is translated and annotated by Legge in vol. iii of Sacred Books 
of the East. 


prefixed. "We also read of Heaven's raising up the great ancient 
sovereigns and teachers, and variously assisting them to accomplish 
their undertakings; but all this need not be more than what a relig- 
ious man of any country might affirm at the present day of direc- 
tion, help, and guidance given to himself and others from above." 

Whatever the true solution of the questions may be, the facts 
that distinguished Chinese scholars dispute as to whether the Con- 
fucian Sacred Books recognize the existence of a personal God, and 
that missionaries, in translating the Christian Scriptures into Chi- 
nese, scruple over a word that will properly represent the Christian 
idea of God, show the comparative vagueness and obscurity of the 
religion of the Chinese scriptures. 

The Egyptian Book of the Dead. 

A most mysterious and interesting work is the Sacred Book of 
the ancient Egyptians, commonly known as the Book of the Dead. 
Some Egyptologists prefer the title "Funeral Ritual," inasmuch 
as it contains many prescriptions and prayers to be used j^s different 
in funeral services, and the vignettes which appear on names. 
many copies represent funeral processions, and priests reading the 
formularies out of a book. But as the prayers are, for the most 
part, the language to be used by the departed in their progress 
through the under world, the title " Book of the Dead " has been 
generally adopted. 

The Egyptian title of the work is, Book of the Peri em km, three 
simple words, but by no means easy of explanation when taken to- 
gether without a context.^ Peri signifies " coming forth," hrii is 
" day," and em is the preposition signifying " from," susceptible, 
like the same preposition in other languages, of a variety of uses. 
The probable meaning of Peri em hru is " coming forth by day," 
and is to be understood mainly of the immortality and resurrection 
of the dead. The book exists in a great number of manuscripts 
recovered from Egy^^tian tombs, and the text is very corrupt; for 
as the writing was not intended for mortal eyes, but to be buried 
with the dead, copyists Avould not be likely to be very scrupulous in 
their work. But the book exists not only on papyrus rolls that 
were deposited in the tombs, but many of the chaj^ters are inscribed 
upon coftins, mummies, sepulchral wrappings, statues, and the walls 
of tombs. Some tombs may be said to contain entire recensions of 

' The Religion of Ancient Egypt, by P. Le Page Renouf. Hibbert Lectures for 
1879, p. 181. New York, 1880. Our account of the Book of the Dead is condensed 
mainly from Renouf's fifth Lecture. 


the book. But no two copies contain exactly the same chapters, or 
Corrupt and follow the same arrangement. The pa2:)yrus of Turin, 
diUrm '^of *^the P^l^lished by Lepsius, contains one hundred and sixty- 
text, five chapters, and is the longest known. But a consider- 
able number of chapters found in other manuscripts are not included 
in it. None of the copies contain the entire collection of chapters, 
but the more ancient manuscripts have fewer chapters than the 
more recent. There is a great uniformity of style and of grammat- 
ical forms, as compared with other productions of Egyptian litera- 
ture, and nothing can exceed the simplicity and brevity of the 
sentences. A critical collation of a sufficient number of copies of 
each chapter will, in time, restore the text to as accurate a standard 
as could be attained in the most flourishing days of the old Egyp- 
tian monarchy. 

The book is mythological throughout/ and assumes the reader's 
Its obscurity fs-^^ilia-i'lty with its myths and legends. The difficulty 
In the subject of its exposition is not in literally translating the text, 
but in understanding the meaning concealed beneath 
familiar words. The English translation by Samuel Birch, pub- 
lished in the fifth volume of Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal 
History, is an exact rendering of the text of the Turin manuscript, 
and to an Englishman gives nearly as correct an impression of the 
original as the text itself would do to an Egyptian who had not 
been carefully taught the mysteries of his religion. 

The foundation of Egyptian mythology is the legend of Osiris.' 
The Osiris le- Having long ruled in Egypt, he was at last slain by the 
oT Egyptian ®^'^^ Typhon, enclosed in a mummy case, and cast into 
mr^hoiogy. the river Nile. Isis, his sister and spouse, sought long 
for his body, and at length found it at Byblus, on the Phoenician 
coast, where it had been tossed by the waves. She brought it back 
to Egypt, and buried it; and when Horus, their son, grew up, he 
slew the evil Typhon, and so avenged his father. Osiris, however, 
was not dead. He had, in fact, descended to the under world, and 
established his dominion there, and at the same time revived in the 
person of his son Horus, and renewed his dominion over the living, 

'"The Ritual," says Biroh, "is, according to Egyptian notions, essentially an in- 
spired work ; and the term Uermetie, so often applied by profane writers to these 
books, in reality means inspired. It is Thoth himself who speaks and reveals the 
will of the gods and the mysterious nature of divine things to man. . . . Portions of 
them are expressly stated to liave been written by the very finger of Thoth himself, 
and to have been the composition of a great God." Introduction to his translation of 
the Funeral Ritual, in Bunsen's Egypt's Place in Universal History, vol. v, p. 133. 

' On this Egyptian legend comp. Bunsen, Egypt's Place in Universal History, vol. i^ 
pp. 423-439, and George Rawlinson, History of Ancient Egypt, vol. i, pp. 366-371. 


The usual <;xplanation of this legend makes it a mythical por- 
traiture of the annual dying and reviving of the powers ^^ 
of nature under the peculiar conditions of the valley of meaning of the 
the Nile. Osiris represents the fertilizing river ; Isis ™^'' ' 
the fruit-bearing land; Typhon the evil spirit of the parched des- 
erts and the salt sea, the demon of drought and barrenness. Horus 
is the sun, appearing in the vernal equinox, and heralding the rising 
of the Nile. Accordingly, when the Nile sinks before the scorch- 
ing winds of the Libyan desert, Osiris is slain by Typhon. Isis, 
th3 land, then sighs and yearns for her lost brother and spouse. 
But when the Nile again overflows, it is a resurrection of Osiris, 
and the vernal sun destroys the demon of drought and renews the 
face of nature. Other slightly varying explanations of the legend 
have been given, but whatever particular view we adopt, it will be 
easy to see how the drapery of these legends might, in course of 
time, come to be used of the death and resurrection of man. Hence 
we find that the names of mythical personages are constantly re- 
curring in the Book of the Dead. 

The beatification of the dead is the main subject of the book. 
The blessed dead are represented as enjoying an exis- ^ ^ 
tence similar to that which they had led on earth. They the dead the 
have the use of all their limbs, eat and drink, and satisfy ^^^^ eu^jec . 
all their physical wants as in their earthly life. But they are not 
confined to any one locality, or to any one form or mode of exis- 
tence. They have the range of the entire universe, in every shape 
and form which they desire. Twelve chapters of the Book of the 
Dead consist of formulas to be used in effecting certain transforma- 
tions. The forms assumed, according to these chapters, are the 
tui-tledove, the serpent Sata, the bird Bennu, the crocodile Sebek, 
the god Ptah, a golden hawk, the chief of the principal gods, a 
soul, a lotusflower, and a heron. The transformations to which 
these chapters refer, however, are far from exhausting the list of 
possible ones. No limit is imposed on the will of the departed, and 
in this respect the Egyptian doctrine of transmigration differs wide- 
ly from the Pythagorean. 

Throughout the Book of the Dead, the identification of the de- 
ceased with Osiris, or assimilation to him, is taken for identification 
granted, and all the deities of the family of Osiris are "^^^^ Osiris, 
supposed to perform for the deceased whatever the legend records 
as having been done for Osiris himself. Thus, in the eighteenth 
chapter, the deceased is brought before a series of divinities in 
succession, the gods of Heliopolis, Abydos, and other localities, and 
at each station the litany begins : 


O Tehuti [or Thoth], who causest Osiris to triumph against his oppo- 
nents, cause tlie Osiris (such a one) to triumph against his opponents, even 
as thou hast made Osiris to triumph against his opj)onents. 

In the next chapter, which is another recension of the eighteenth, 
and is entitled the "Crown of Triumph," the deceased is declared 
triumphant forever, and all the gods in heaven and earth repeat 
this, and the chapter ends with the following : 

Horus lias repeated this dechiration four times, and all his enemies fall 
prostrate before him annihilated. Horus, the son of Isis, repeats it millions 
of times, and all his enemies fall annihilated. They are carried off to the 
place of execution in the East; their heads are cut off, their necks are brok- 
en; their thighs are severed, and delivered up to the great destroyer who 
dwells in Aati; they shall not come forth from the custody of Seb forever. 

But not to Osiris only is the deceased assimilated. In the forty- 
other assimi- second chapter every limb is assimilated to a different 
latious. deity; the hair to Nu, the face to Ra, the eyes to 

Hathor, the ears to Apuat, the nose to the god of Sechem, the lips 
to Anubis, the teeth to Selket, and so on, the catalogue ending with 
the words : " There is not a limb in him without a god, and Tehuti 
is a safeguard to all his members." Further on it is said : 

Not men, nor gods, nor the ghosts of tlie departed, nor the damned, 
past, present, or future, whoever they be, can do him hurt. He it is who 
Cometh forth in safety. "Whom men know not" is his name. The "Yes- 
terday which sees endless years" is his name, passing in triumph by the 
roads of heaven. The deceased is the Lord of eternity ; he is reckoned even 
as Chepera; he is the master of the kingly crown. 

The one hundred and forty-ninth chapter gives an account of the 
Dangers of the terrible nature of certain divinities and localities which 
deceased. the deceased must encounter — gigantic and venomous 

serpents, gods with names significant of death and destruction, 
waters and atmospheres of flames. But none of these prevail over 
the Osiris ; he passes through all things without hai'm, and lives in 
peace with the fearful gods who preside over these abodes. Some 
of these gods remind one of the demons in Dante's Infei-no. But 
though ministers of divine justice, their nature is not evil. The 
following are invocations, from the seventeenth chapter, to be used 
of one passing through these dangers : 

O Ra, in thine egg, radiant in thy disk shining forth from the horizon, 
swimming over the steel firmament, sailing over the pillars of Shu; thou 
who hast no second among the gods, who producest tlie winds by the 
flames of thy mouth, and who enlightenest the worlds with thy splendours, 


save the departed from that god whose nature is a mystery, and whose 
eyebrows are as the arms of the l)alance on the night when Aauit was 
weighed, . . . O Scarabaeiis god in thy bark, whose substance is self-orig- 
inated, save the Osiris from those watchers to whom the Lord of spirits 
has entrusted the observation of his enemies, and from whose observations 
none can escape. Let me not fall under their swords, nor go to tiieir 
blocks of execution ; let me not remain in their abodes ; let me not rest upon 
their beds [of torment] ; let me not fall into their nets. Let naught befall 
me which the gods abhor. 

We have not space for further illustrations of this most interest- 
ing w^ork. It will be seen how this Funeral Ritual, or Book of the 
Dead, embodies the Egyptian doctrines of a future state, and the 
rewards and punishments of that after life.^ But it will also be 
observed how thoroughly its theology is blended with all that is 
superstitious and degrading in a polytbeistic mythology. 

The Koran. 

The Mohammedan Bible is a comparatively modern book, and 
easily accessible to English readers.'' It is about half the size of 
the Old Testament, and contains one hundred and four- General char- 
teen chapters, called Suras. It is doubtful whether ^.cter. 
Mohammed ever learned to read or wadte. He dictated his revela- 
tions to his disciples, and they wrote them on date leaves, bits of 
parchment, tablets of white stone, and shoulder-blades of sheep. 
These were written during the last twenty years of the prophet's 
life, and a year after his death the different fragments were col- 
lected by his followers, and arranged according to the length of the 
chapters, beginning with the longest and ending with the shortest. 
So the book, as regards its contents, presents a strange medley, 
having no real beginning, middle, or end. And yet it is probably 
a faithful transcript of Mohammed's mind and heart as exhibited 
during the latter portion of his life. In some passages he seems to 
have been inspired with a holy zeal, and eloquently proclaims the 
glory of Almighty God, the merciful and compassionate. Other 

' See J. P. Thompson's Article on the Egyptian Doctrine of a Future State, in the 
Bibliotheca Sacra, January, 1868, in which a fair analysis of the teachings of the Book 
of the Dead is given. 

' Sale's English version of the Koran has been published in many forms, and his 
Preliminary Discourse is invaluable for the study of Islam. The translation of Rev. 
I. M. Piodwell (Lend., 18G1) has the Suras arranged in chronological order. But the 
recent translation by E. H. Palmer (vols, vi and ix of Miiller's Sacred Books of the 
East) is undoubtedly the best English version. 


passages have the form and spirit of a bulletin of -war.' In another he 
seems to make an apology for taking to himself an additional wife.* 
Another suggests a political manoeuvre. But, on the whole, the 
Koran is a most tedious book to read. It is full of repetitions, and 
seems incapable of happy translation into any other language. Its 
crowning glory is its glowing Arabic diction. "Regarding it," says 
Palmer, "from a perfectly impartial and unbiassed standpoint, we 
iind that it expresses the thoughts and ideas of a Bedawi Arab 
in Bedawi language and metaphor. The language is noble and 
forcible, but it is not elegant in the sense of literary refinement. 
To Mohammed's hearers it must have been startling from the 
manner in which it brought great truths home to them in the lan- 
guage of their everyday life.'" Mohammed was wont to urge 
that the marvellous excellence of his book was a standing proof 
of its divine and superhuman origin. " If men and genii," says 
he, "united themselves together to bring the like of this Koran, 
they could not bring the like, though they should back each 
other up ! " " 

The founder of Islam appears to have been from early life a 
Life and claims Contemplative soul. In the course of his travels as a 
of Mohammed, merchant he probably often met and talked with Jews 
and Christians. The Koran contains on almost every page some 
allusion to Jewish history or Christian doctrine; but Mohammed's 
acquaintance with both Judaism and Christianity appears to have 
been formed from oral sources, and was confused with many vague 
and silly traditions. It should be observed, too, that at that period 
an earnest seeker after truth, under circumstances like those which 
tended chiefly to fashion Mohammed's mind and character, might 
very easily have become bewildered by the various traditions of 
the Jews and the foolish controversies of the Christians. The 
Church was then distracted with controversy over the Trinity and 
the use of images in worship. To Mohammed, a religion which 
filled its churches with images of saints was no better than a gross 
idolatry. His knowledge of Jesus Avas gathered largely from the 
apocryphal gospels and through Jewish channels. Hence we may 
understand the reason of the perverted form in which so many 
Christian ideas are treated in the Koran. 

Mohammed claimed to be the last of six great apostles who had 
been sent upon divine missions into the world. Those six are 

* Sura iii, 135-145 ; viii, xl. Coinp. Muir, Life of Mahomet, vol. iii, p. 224. 
'Sura xxxiii, 35^0; Ixvi. 

' The Qur'an. Translated by E. H. Palmer. Introduction, p. Ixxvii. 

* Koran, Sura xvii, 90. 


Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed. Nothing 
specially new or original is to be found in the Moslem bible. It 
has been maintained that "Islam was little else than a republica- 
tion of Judaism, with such modifications as suited it to Arabian soil, 
plus the important addition of the prophetic mission of Moham- 
med." ^ The following passage from the fifth Sura well illustrates 
the- general style of the Koran: 

[20] God's is the kingdom of the heavens and the earth and what is 
between the two; he created what he will, for God is mighty over all! 

But the Jews and the Christians say, " We are the sons of God and his 
beloved." Say, "Why then does he punish you for your sins?" nay, ye 
are mortals of those whom he has created! He pardons whom he pleases, 
and punishes whom he pleases; for God's is the kingdom of tlie heavens 
and the earth, and what is between the two, and unto him the journey is. 

O people of the book ! our apostle has come to you, explaining to you 
the interval of apostles ; lest ye say, " There came not to us a herald of 
glad tidings nor a waruer." But there has come to you now a herald of 
glad tidings and a warner, and God is mighty over all! 

When Moses said to his people, "O my people! remember the favour of 
God toward you when he made among you prophets, and made for you 
kings, and brought you what never was brought to any body in the 
worlds. O my people! enter the holy laud which God has prescribed for 
you; and be ye not thrust back upon your hinder parts and retreat losers." 
[25] They said, "O Moses! verily, therein is a people, giants; and we 
will surely not enter therein until they go out from thence; but if they go 
out then we will enter in." Then said two men of those who fear, — God 
had been gracious to them both, — "Enter ye upon them by the door, and 
when ye have entered it, verily, ye shall be victorious; and upon God do 
ye rely if ye be believers." They said, "O Moses! we shall never enter it 
so long as they are therein; so, go thou and thy Lord and fight ye twain; 
verily, we will sit down here." Said he, "My Lord, verily, I can control 
only myself and my brother ; therefore part us from these sinful people." 
He said, "Then, verily, it is forbidden them; for forty years sluiU they 
wander about in the earth; so vex not thyself for the sinful people." 

[30] Recite to them the story of the two sons of Adam; truly wlien they 
oft'ered an offering and it was accepted from one of tliem, and was not 
accepted from the other, that one said, "I will surely kill thee;" he said, 
"God only accepts from those who fear. If thou dost stretch forth to me 
thine hand to kill me, I will not stretcli forth mine hand to kill thee; 
verily, I fear God the Lord of the worlds; verily, I wish that thou mayest 
draw upon thee my sin and thy sin, and be of the fellows of the fire, for 
tliiit is the reward of the unjust." But his soul allowed him to slay his 
brother, and he slew him, and in the morning he was of those who lose. 
And God sent a crow to scratch in the earth and show him how he might 

' Mohammed and Mohammedanism. Lectures by E. Bosworth Smith, p. 143. New 
York, 1875. 


hide his brother's shame, he said, "Alas, for me! Am I too helpless to 
become like this crow and hide my brother's shame?" and in the morning 
he was of those who did repent. 

[35] For this cause have we prescribed to the children of Israel that 
whoso kills a soul, unless it be for another soul or for violence in the land, 
it is as though he had killed men altogether; but whoso saves one, it is 
as though he saved men altogether.' 

The one hundred and twelfth Sura is held in special veneration 

among the Mohammedans, and is popularly accounted equal in 

value to a third part of the entire Koran. It is said to have been 

revealed in answer to one who wished to know the distinguishing 

attributes of Mohammed's God, The following is Palmer's 


In the name of the merciful and compassionate God 

Say, He is God alone! 

God the Eternal ! 

He begets not, and is not begotten ! 

Nor is there like unto him any one! 

The following passage, from the beginnmg of the second Sura, 
is to be understood as the words of the Angel Gabriel to Moham- 
med, and showing him the character and importance of the Koran: 

That is the book! there is no d()ul)t therein; a guide to the pious, who 
believe in the unseen, and are steadfast in prayer, and of what we have 
given tliem expend in alms; wlio believe in what is revealed to thee, and 
what was revealed before thee, and of the hereafter they are sure. These 
are in guidance from their Lord, and these are the prosperous. Verily, 
those who misljclieve, it is the same to them if ye warn them or if ye warn 
them not, tliey will not believe. God has set a seal upon their hearts and 
on their hearing; and on tlieir eyes is dimness, and for them is grievous 
woe. And there are those among men who say, "We believe in God and 
in the last day;" but they do not believe. They would deceive God and 
tliose who do believe ; but they deceive only themselves and they do not 
perceive. In their hearts is a sickness, and God has made them still more 
sick, and for them is grievous woe because they lied. And when it is said 
to them, "Do not evil in the earth," they say, "We do but what is right." 
Are not they the evil doers ? and yet they do not perceive. And when it is 
said to them, ''Believe as other men believe," tliey say, "Shall we believe 
as fools believe ? " Are not they themselves the fools? and yet they do 
not know. And when they meet those who believe, they say, ''AVe do 
believe;" but when tliey go aside with their devils, they say, "We are 
with you; we were but mocking! " God shall mock at them and let them 
go on in their rebellion, blindly wandering on.« 

-Palmer's translation, Part I., pp. 100-102. 
"Ibid., pp. 2, 3. 


The following, from the same Sura, is a specimen of the manner 
in which Mohammed garbles and presents incidents of Israelitish 
history : 

Dost thou not look at the crowd of the children of Israel after Moses' 
time, when they said to a prophet of theirs, " Raise up for us a king, and 
we will fight iu God's way? " He said, '' Will ye perhaps, if it be written 
down for you to fight, refuse to fight ? " They said, " And why should we 
not fight in God's way, now that we are dispossessed of our homes and 
sons?" But when it was written down for them to fight they turned 
back, save a few of them, and God knows who are evil doers. Then their 
prophet said to them, "Verily, God has raised up for you Taiut as a 
king;" they said, "How can the kingdom be his over us; we have more 
right to the kingdom than he, for he has not an amplitude of wealth?" 
He said, "Verily, God has chosen him over you, and has provided him 
■with an extent of knowledge and of form. God gives the kingdom unto 
whom he will; God comprehends and knows." 

Then said to them their prophet, " The sign of his kingdom is that tliere 
shall come to you the ark with the shechinah iu it from your Lord, and the 
relics of what the family of Moses and the family of Aaron left ; the angels 
shall bear it." In that is surely a sign to you if ye believe. 

Whatever opinion we may form of the Koran, or of Islam, it 
must be conceded that the man, who, like Mohammed, in one 
generation organized a race of savage tribes into a united people, 
founded an empire which for more than a thousand years has 
covered a territory as extensive as that of Rome in her proudest 
days, and established a religion which to-day numbers over a 
hundred million adherents, must have been an extraordinary char- 
acter, and his life and works must be worthy of careful philosophic 
study. But it will also be conceded, by all competent to judge, 
that, as a volume of sacred literature, the Koran is very deficient 
in those elements of independence and originality which are notice- 
able in the sacred books of the other great religions of the world. 
The strict Mohammedans regard every syllable of the Koran as of 
a directly divine origin. "The divine revelation," observes Muir, 
" was the cornerstone of Islam. The recital of a passage formed 
an essential part of every celebration of public worship; and its 
private perusal and repetition was enforced as a duty and a privi- 
lege, fraught with the richest religious merit. This is the uni- 
versal voice of early tradition, and may be gathered from the 
revelation itself. The Koran was accordingly committed to 
memory more or less by every adherent of Islam, and the extent 
to which it could be recited was reckoned one of the chief dis- 
tinctions of nobility in the early Moslem empire. The custom of 


Arabia favoured the task. Passionately fond of poetry, yet pos- 
sessed of but limited means and skill in committing to writing the 
effusions of their bards, the Arabs had long been habituated to 
imprint them on the living tablets of their hearts. The recol- 
lective faculty was thus cultivated to the highest pitch; and it was 
applied with all the ardour of an awakened Arab spirit to the 
Koran. Several of Mohammed's followers, according to early tra- 
dition, could, during his lifetime, repeat with scrupulous accuracy 
the entire revelation." ' 

TuE Eddas. 

Two ancient collections of Scandinavian poems and legends, 
known as the Elder and the Younger Edda, embody the 
acter of the mythology of the Teutonic tribes which settled in early 
^' times in the sea-girt lands of Denmark, Sweden, and 
Norway. From these tribes migrated also the ancient colonists of 
Iceland. To these old Norsemen the Eddas hold a position corre- 
sponding to that of the Vedas among the ancient Hindus, and the 
Avesta among the Persians. 

In the old Norse language the word Edda means ancestress, or 
great-grandmother. Probably the poems and traditions so named 
were long perpetuated orally by the venerable mothers, Avho repeated 
them to their children and children's children at the blazing fire- 
sides of those northern homes. The Elder Edda, often called the 
Poetic Edda, consists of thirty-nine poems, and would nearly equal 
in size the books of Psalms and Proverbs combined. The Younger 
or Prose Edda is a collection of the myths of the Scandinavian 
deities, and furnishes to some extent a commentary on the older 
Edda, from the songs of which it quotes frequently. These inter- 
esting works were quite unknown to the learned world until the 
latter part of the seventeenth century. But it appears that the 
poems of the older Edda were collected about the beginning of the 
twelfth century by Saemund Sigfusson, an Icelandic priest, who, 
after pursuing classical and theological studies in the universities of 
France and Germany, returned to Iceland and settled in a village at 
the foot of Mount Ilecla. Whether he collected these poems from 
oral tradition, or from runic manuscripts or inscriptions, is uncertain. 
A copy of this Edda on vellum, believed to date from the fourteenth 
century, was found in Iceland by Bishop Sveinsson in 1G43, and was 
subsequently published under the title of The Edda of Saemund 
the Learned.' The prose Edda is ascribed to the celebrated Ice- 

' The Life of Mahomet, vol. i. Introduction, p. 5. London, 18C1. 
' Edda Sucmundar hind Froda, Copenhagen. 3 vols. 1787-1828. The third volume 
contains the Lexicon Mythologicum of Finn Magnusson. 


landic historian, Snorri Sturlason (born 1178), who probably collect- 
ed its several parts from oral tradition and other sources. The first 
copy known to Europeans was found by Jonsson in 1628, and the first 
complete edition was published by Rask, at Stockholm, in 1818.' 
The fii'st, and perhaps oldest, poem of the Elder Edda is entitled 

the Voluspa, that is, the Sonsr of the Prophetess. It 

. ... 1 • r ^ . The Voluspa. 

narrates m poetic form the creation ot tne universe 

and of man, the origin of evil, and how death entered into the 

world. It speaks of a future destruction and renovation of the 

universe, and of the abodes of bliss and woe. The prophetess 

thus begins her song: 

1. All noble souls, yield me devout cattention, 
Ye high and low of Heimdall's race," 

I will All-Father's works make known, 
The oldest sayings which I call to mind. 

2. Of giants eight was I first born, 
They reared me up from ancient times; 
Nine worlds I know, nine limbs I know 
Of that strong trunk within the earth.' 

3. In that far age when Ymir* lived, 
There was no sand, nor sea, nor saline wave; 
Earth there was not, nor lofty heaven, 

A yawning deep, but verdure none, 

4. Until Bor's sons the spheres upheaved, 
And they the mighty Midgard^ formed. 

' An English translation of the Poetic Edda was published by Benjamin Thorpe 
(Two parts, London, 1866), but is now out of print. Comp. Icelandic Poetry, or the 
Edda of Saemund translated into English verse by A. S. Cottle (Bristol, 1797). Many 
fragments of the lays are given in Anderson's Norse Mythology (Chicago, 1880). 
An English translation of the Prose Edda is given in Blackwell's edition of Mallet's 
Northern Antiquities (Bohn's Antiquarian Library). A new translation by R. B. 
Anderson has been published at Chicago (1880). A very complete and convenient 
German translation of both Eddas, with explanations by Karl Simrock, has passed 
through many editions (seventh improved edition, Stuttgart, 1878). 

* Heimdall, according to the old Norse mythology, was the father and founder of 
the different classes of men, nobles, churls, and thralls. 

^ Referring to the great mundane ash-tree where the gods assemble every day in 

council. This tree strikes its roots through all worlds, and is thus described in the 

nineteenth verse of the Voluspa : 

An ash I know named Yggdrasil, 

A lofty tree wet with white mist, 

Tlience comes the dew which in the valleys falls ; 

Ever green it stands o'er the Urdar-fount. 

* Ymir was the progenitor of the giants, and out of his body the world was created. 
® The Prose Edda explains that the earth is round without, and encircled by the 

ocean, the outward shores of which were assigned to the race of "iants. But around 


The southern sun shone on the cliffs 

And green the ground became with plants. 

5. The southern sun, the moon's companion, 
Held with right hand the steeds of heaven. 
The sun knew not where she' might set, 
The moon knew not what power he * had, 
The stars knew not where they might dwell. 

6. Then went the Powers to judgment seats, 
The gods most holy lield a council, 

To night and new moon gave they names, 
They named the morning and the midday, 
And evening, to arrange the times." 

Another very interesting poem is the Grimnis-mal, or Lay of 
Grimner, in which we find a description of the twelve habitations 
of heavenly deities, by which some scholars understand the twelve 
signs of the zodiac. The sixth poem is called the Hava-mal, or 
Sublime Lay. It is an ethical poem, embodying a considerable col- 
lection of ancient Norse proverbs. The following passages, from 
Bishop Percy's prose translation, are specimens : 

1. Consider and examine Avell all your doors before you venture to stir 
abroad ; for he is exposed to continual danger, whose enemies lie in am- 
bush concealed in his court. 

3. To the guest, who enters your dwelling with frozen knees, give the 
warmth of your fire: he who hath travelled over the mountains hath need 
of food, and well-dried garments. 

4. Offer water to him who sits down at your table ; for he hath occasion 
to cleanse his hands: and entertain him honourably and kindly, if you 
would win from him friendly words and a grateful return. 

5. He wl'.o travelleth hath need of wisdom. One may do at home what- 
soever one will: but he wlio is isrnorant of good manners will onlv draw 
contempt upon himself, when he comes to sit down with men well instructed. 

7. He who goes to a feast, where he is not expected, either speaks with 
a lowly voice, or is silent; he listens with his ears, and is attentive with 
his eyes; by this he acquires knowledge and wisdom. 

8. Happy he, who draws upon himself the applause and benevolence of 
men! for whatever depends upon the will of others, is hazardous and un- 

a portion of the inland Odin, Vile, and Ve, the sons of Bor, raised a bulwark against 
turbulent giants, and to the portion of the earth wliich it encircled they gave the name 
of Midgard. For this structure, it is said, they used the eyebrows of Ymir, of his flesh 
they formed the land, of his sweat and blood the seas, of his bones the mountains, 
of his hair the trees, of his brains the clouds, and of his skull the vault of lieaven. 
See Mallet, Northern Antiquities, pp. 98, 405. Anderson, Norse Mythology, p. 176. 

' In the Norse language, sun is feminine and moon is masculine. 

* Translated from Simrock's German version of the Voluspa. 


10. A man can carry with him no better provision for his journey than 
the strength of understanding. In a foreign country this will be of more 
use to him than treasures; and will introduce liim to the table of strangers. 

12-13. A man cannot carry a worse custom with him to a banquet than 
that of drinking too much ; the more the drunkard swallows, the less is 
his wisdom, till he loses his reason. Tlie bird of oblivion sings before 
those who inebriate themselves, and steals away their souls.' 

We add a single extract from the Prose Edda, the account of the 
formation of the first human pair : 

One day, as the sons of Bor were walking along the sea-beach they found 
two stems of wood, out of which they shaped a man and a woman. The 
first (Odin) infused into them life and spirit; the second (Vile) endowed 
them with reason and the power of motion; the third (Ve) gare^ them 
speech and features, hearing and vision. The man they called Ask, and 
the woman, Embla. From these two descend the whole human race, whose 
assigned dwelling was within Midgard. Then the sons of Bor built in the 
middle of the universe the city called Asgard, where dwell th&gods and 
their kindred, and from that abode work out so many wondrous things, 
both on the earth and in tlie heavens above it. There is in that city a place 
called Hlidskjalf, and when Odin is seated there on his lofty throne he sees 
over the whole world, discerns all the actions of men, jind comprehends 
whatever he contemplates. His wife is FiiLrga, the daughter of Fjorgyn, 
and tliey and their offspring form the race that we call the jEsir, a race 
that dwells in Asgard the old, and the regions around it, and that we know 
to be entirely divine. Wherefore Odin may justly be called All-Father, for 
he is verily the father of all, of gods as well as of men, and to his power 
all things owe their existence. Earth is his daughter and his wife, and 
with her he had his first-born son, Asa-Thor, who is endowed with strength 
and valour, and therefore quelleth he everything that hath life.* 

In all the voluminous literature of the Greeks and the Romans 
we find no single work or collection of writings analogous to the 
above-named sacred books.^ It would not be difficult to comj^ile 
from Greek and Roman poets and philosophers a body of sacred 
literature which would compare favourably with that of any of the 
Gentile nations. But such a compilation woiild have, as a volume, 
no recognized authority or national significance. The books we 
have described, like our own Bible, have had a historical develop- 
ment, and a distinct i>lace in the religious culture of great nations. 

' See the whole poem as translated by Tliorpe in Anderson's Norse Mythology, pp. 
130-15.5, and the mysterious Runic section on pp. 254-259. 

* Blackwell's translation, in Mallet, Xorthern Antiquities, pp. 405, 406. 

' Whatever may have been the nature and contents of the old Sibylline Books, 
which were kept in the Temple of Jupiter Capitolinus at Rome, they perished long 
ago, and their real character and use are now purely matters of conjecture. 


The Koran, the Avesta, the Pitakas, and the Chinese classics em- 
body the precepts and laws which have been a rule of faith to mill- 
ions. The vedic hymns and the Egyptian ritual have directed the 
devotions of countless generations of earnest worshippers. They 
are, therefore, to be accounted sacred books, and are invaluable for 
the study of history and of comparative theology.' 

In forming a proper estimate of these bibles of the nations, we 

^ , must take each one as a whole. In the brief citations 

These books 

must be studied we have given above, the reader can only learn the 
as a whole. general tone and spirit of the best portions of the sev- 
eral books. The larger part of all of them is filled with either un- 
trustworthy legends, or grotesque fancies and vague speculations. 
They abound in polytheistic superstitions, incomprehensible meta- 
physics, and mythological tales. But, doubtless, back of all this 
mass of accumulated song and superstition and legend, there Avas 
once a foundation of comparatively pure worship and belief. Even 
Mohammed, whose life and works stand out in the light of reliable 
history, appears to have been, at the beginning of his career, an 
earnest seeker after truth and a zealous reformer. But afterward 
the pride of power and numerous victories warped his moral integ- 
rity, and later portions of the Koran are apologies for his crimes. 
It is difficult to see what logical connexion the superstitions of 
modern Taoism have with the teachings of Laotzse. In fact, the 
original documents and ideas of most of the great religions of the 
East appear to have become lost in the midst of the accretions of 
later times. Especially is this true of Brahmanism and Buddhism. 
Who can now certainly declare what were the very words of Bud- 
dha? The Tripitaka is an uncertain guide. It is much as if the 
apocryphal gospels, the legends of anchorites and monks and mys- 
tics, and the dreams of the schoolmen, were all strung together, 
and intermingled with the words and works of Jesus. Roman 
Catholicism is itself a gross corruption and caricature of the religion 
of Jesus Christ; and were it the sole representative of the Gospel 
in the world to-day it would be a striking analogue of Buddhism. 
Could we go back to the true historical starting point of the great 
religions, we would, perhaps, find them all, in one form and another, 

' The Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs, a politico-religious sect of India, constitute a 
volume full of interest, and equal in size to the Old Testament. It is commonly 
known as the Granth. But it is a late work, compiled about A. D. 1500, and has no 
national or historical value to entitle it to a ])lace among the bibles of the uittioiis. It 
has been translated into English, and published at the expense of the Biitish (iovern- 
ment for India. See The Adi Granth, or the Holy Scriptures of the Sikhs, translated 
from the original Gurmukhi, with Introductory Essays, by Dr. Ernest Tiirumpp. 
Lond., 18Y7. 


connected with some great patriarchal Jethro, or Melchizedek, 
whose name and genealogy are now alike lost to mankind. 

It will not do to take up the various bibles of the world, and, 
having selected choice extracts from them all, compare such selec- 
tions alone with similar extracts from the Christian and Jewish 
Scriptures. These latter, we doubt not, can furnish more exquisite 
passages than all the others combined. But such comparison of 
choice excerpts is no real test. Each bible must be taken as an 
organic whole, and viewed in its historical and national Notable snperi- 
relations. Then will it be seen, as one ci'owning glory ority of the oid 

and New Tes- 

of the Scriptures of the Old and New Testaments, that tament scrip- 
they are the carefully preserved productions of some *"'''^^' 
sixteen centuries, self-verifying in their historical relations, and 
completed and divinely sanctioned by the Founder of Christian- 
ity and his apostles in the most critical and cultivated age of 
the Roman Empire. All attempts to resolve these sacred books 
into myths and legends have proved signal failures. The Hebrew 
people were notably a peculiar people, and their national history 
stands out in the clear light of trustworthy testimony. They were 
placed, geographically, in the very center of the great historic 
empires of Egypt, Asia, and Europe; and the accuracy of their 
sacred records is confirmed by the records of these empires. Most 
notable is the fact, moreover, that the languages in which the 
several parts of the sacred canon were written ceased to be living 
tongues about the time when those several parts obtained canonical 
authority; and thereby these sacred books were crystallized into 
imperishable form, and have become historical and linguistic mon- 
uments of their own genuineness. We are, furthermore, confident 
in the assertion that the Holy Scriptures are not only singularly 
free from the superstitions and follies that abound in the sacred 
books of other nations, but also that they contain in substance the 
inculcation of every excellence and virtue to be found in all the 
others. Thus in their entirety they are incomparably superior to 
all other sacred books.' 

But, taken in parts, the Bible will still maintain a marvellous 
superiority. Where, in all other literature, wdll be found a moral 
code comparable, for substance and historical presentation, with the 
Sinaitic decalogue? Whei-e else is there such a golden sum- 

' " It cannot be too strongly stated," saj'S Max Muller, " that the chief, and in many 
cases the only, interest of the Sacred Books of the East is historical ; that much in 
them is extremely childish, tedious, if not repulsive ; and that no one but the historian 
•will be able to understand the important lessons which they teach." Sacred Books of 
the East, vol. i, p. xliii. 


raary of all law and revelation as the first and second command- 
ments of the Saviour? The religions lessons of the Bible are 
set in a historical background of national life and personal experi- 
ence; and largely in biographical sketches true to all the phases of 
human character.' Let the diligent student go patiently and care- 
fully through all rival scriptures; let him memorize the noblest 
vedic hymns, and study the Tripitaka with all the enthusiasm of an 
Edwin Arnold; let him search the Confucian classics, and the Tau- 
teh-king of Laotsze, and the sacred books of Persia, Assyria, and 
Babylon; let him devoutly peruse Egyptian ritual, Moslem Koran, 
and Scandinavian Eddas; he yet will find in the Psalms of David a 
beauty and purity infinitely superior to any thing in the Vedas; 
in the gospels of Jesus a glory and splendour eclipsing the boasted 
"Light of Asia;" and in the laws of Moses and the Proverbs 
of Solomon lessons of moral and political wisdom far in advance 
of any thing that Laotsze and Confucius offer. By such study 
and comparisons it will be seen, as not before, how, as a body of 
laws, history, poetry, prophecy, and religious records, the Bible is 
most emphatically the Book of books, and, above all other books 
combined, "profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for 
instruction in righteousness." Such study will dissipate the notion 
that Christianity is equivalent to general goodness, and that the 
Bible is an accident of human history; for it Avill bo seen that the 
Gospel system essentially excludes all other religions, and evinces 
a divine right to supersede them all. The written records of other 
faiths are of the earth and earthy; the Bible is a heavenly gift, in 
language and history wonderfully prepared, and accompanied by 
manifold evidences of being the revelation of God. To devotees 
of other religions the Christian may truly say, in the words of the 
Lord Jesus (John iv, 22): "Ye worship what ye know not, we wor- 
ship what we know, for the salvation is from the Jews." 

' Tayler Lewis observes : " Every other assumed revelation has been addressed to 
but one pliase of humanity. They have been adapted to one age, to one people, or 
one peculiar style of human thought. Their books have never assumed a cosmical 
character, or been capable of any catholic expansion. They could never be ac- 
commodated to other ages, or acclimated to other parts of the world. They are indig- 
enous plants that can never grow out of the zone that gave them birth. Zoroaster 
never made a disciple beyond Persia, or its inunediate neighborhood ; Confucius is 
wholly Chinese, as Socrates is wholly Greek." The Divine Human in the Scripture, 
p. 133. New York, 1859. 




A THOROUGH acquaintance with the genius and grammatical struc- 
ture of the original languages of the Bible is essen- Acquaintance 
tially the basis of all sound interpretation. A transla- J^'^j^ *^^^^ ^'"•s- 
tion, however faithful, is itself an interpretation, and of scripture the 
cannot be safely made a substitute for original and in- ggu^^ ''mter- 
dependent investigation. As an introduction, there- pretation. 
fore, to Biblical Hermeneutics, it is of the first importance that we 
have a knowledge of those ancient tongues in which the sacred 
oracles were written. It is important, also, that we make our- 
selves familiar with the general principles of linguistic science, the 
growth of families of languages, and the historical position, as well 
as the most marked characteristics, of the sacred tongues. 

Origin and Growth of Languages. 

The origin of human speech has been a fruitful theme of specu- 
lation and controversy. One's theory on the subject is origin of lan- 
likely to be governed by his theory of the origin of suage. 
man. If we adopt the theory of evolution, according to which 
man has been gradually developed, by some process of natural 
selection, from lower forms of animal life, we will very naturally 
conclude that language is a human invention, constructed by slow 
degrees to meet the necessities and conditions of life. If, on the 
other hand, we hold that man was first introduced on earth by a 
miraculous creation, and was made at the beginning a perfect 
specimen of his kind, we will very naturally conclude that the 
beginnings of human language were of supernatural origin. 

Several theories have been advanced to show that language may 
have had a human origin. According to one theory, various theo- 
maintained by several eminent philologists, such as ^^• 
K. W. L. Heyse, H. Steinthal, and Max Miiller, man was originally 
endowed with a creative faculty which spontaneously gave a name 
to each distinct conception as it first thrilled through his brain. 
There was originally such a sympathy between soul and body, and 
such a dependence of the one upon the other, that every object, 



which in any way affected the senses, produced a corresponding 
The Automatic echo in the soul, and found automatic expression 
Theory. through the vocal organs. As gold, tin, wood, and 

stone have each a different ring or sound when struck, so the 
different sensations and perceptions of man's soul rang out articu- 
late sounds whenever they were impressed by objects from without 
or intuitions from Avithiu. This may properly be called the auto- 
matic theory of the origin of speech. Others adopt a theory 
The onomato- which may be called onomatopoetic. It traces the 
poetic Theory, origin of words to an imitation of natural sounds. 
Animals, according to this theory, would receive names corre- 
sponding to their natural utterances. The noises caused by the 
winds and waters would suggest names for these objects of nature. 
The interjec- ^^d in this way a few simple words would come to 
tionai Theory, form the germs of the first language. Then, again, 
there is the interjectional theory, Avhich seeks for the radical ele- 
ments of language in the sudden ejaculations of excited passion 
or desire. 

Against all these theories strong arguments may be urged. In- 
Objections to terjections and onomatopoetic words are in every lan- 
these theories, guage comparatively few, and can in no proper sense 
be regarded as the radical elements of speech. " Language begins 
where interjections end." The two theories last named will ac- 
count for the origin of many words in all languages, but not for 
the origin of language itself. The automatic theory assumes too 
materialistic and mechanical a notion of lanffuatre-makinsf to com- 
mand general acceptance. It has been nicknamed the ding-dong 
theory, for it resolves the first men into bells, mechanically ringing 
forth vocal sounds, and, as Whitney has humorously added, like 
other bells they rang by the tongue. But Miiller, on the o^her 
hand, rejects both the other theories, and stigmatizes the onomato- 
poetic as the boto-ioow theory, and the interjectional as the pooh- 
pooh theory. Thus the most eminent philologists reject and spurn 
each other's theories. 

Whitney has argued that, since nineteen-twentieths of our speech 
is manifestly of human origin, it is but reasonable to suppose that 
the other twentieth originated in the same way.' But such an 
argument cannot be allowed, for it is precisely with this unknown 
twentieth that all the difficulty lies. Nor is it really so much the 
twentieth as the one thousandth part. We can readily trace the 
causes and methods by which languages have been multiplied and 
changed, but how the first man began to speak — not merely utter 
' Language and the Study of Language, p. 400. 


articulate sounds, but frame sentences and communicate ideas — is 
quite another question. Necessity may have compelled him to 
make clothing, build houses, and fabricate implements of art ; but 
in all such cases he somewhere found the raw material at hand. 
He did not originate the clay and the trees and the stones. But 
the origin of human language seems, from the nature of the case, 
to involve the creation of the material as well as the putting it 
in form. 

If we believe that man was originally created upright, with all 
his natural faculties complete, a most obvious corollary origin probably 
is, that language was directly imparted to him by his supernatural. 
Creator. He learned his first mode of speech from God, or from 
angelic beings, whom God commissioned to instruct him. Perhaps 
the original creation involved with it a power in the first man to 
speak spontaneously. He named whatever he would name as in- 
tuitively as the bird builds its nest, and as naturally as the first bud 
put forth its inflorescence; but, unlike bird and bud, his original 
power for speaking was a conscious capability of the soul, and not, 
as the automatic theory assumes, a peculiarity of the vocal organs. 
Language is not an accident of human nature ; else might it utterly 
perish like other arts and inventions of man. It is an essential ele- 
ment of man's being, and one which ever distinguishes him from 
the brute. Nor is it ingenuous or honourable in linguists to ignore 
the statements of Scripture on this subject. The account of Adam 
naming the creatures brought to him (Gen. ii, 19) is manifestly 
one illustration of his first use of language. Perfect and vigorous 
from the start, his faculty of language, as a native law, sponta- 
neously gave names to the objects presented to his gaze. This 
exercise seems not to have taken place until after he had held in- 
tercourse with God (verses 16, 17), but the whole account of his 
creation and primitive state implies that his power of speech, and 
its first exercise, were among the mysterious facts of his supernat- 
ural origin. 

The confusion of tongues, narrated in the eleventh chapter of 
Genesis, may be an important factor in accounting for ^^^ confusion 
the great multitude and diversity of human languages, of tongues at 
The plain import of that narrative is, that, by a direct 
judgment-stroke of the Almighty, the consciousness of men became 
confused, and their speech discordant. And this confusion of 
speech is set forth as the occasion, not the result, of their being 
scattered abroad over all the earth. Whatever language had been 
used before that event, it probably went out of existence then or 
became greatly modified, and any attempt now to determine abso- 


lutely the original language of mankind, would be as great a folly 
as the building of the tower of Babel.' 

But modern philological research has contributed greatly to our 
knowledge of the changes, growth, and classification of 
growth of new the languages of men. We, who read and speak the 
laiiKuages. English language of to-day, know that it is very differ- 
ent from the English language of three hundred years ago. We 
go back to the time of Chaucer, and find what seems almost another 
language. Go back to the Norman Conquest, and it requires as 
much study to understand the Anglo-Saxon of that period as to 
understand German or French. The reason of these changes is 
traceable to the introduction of new words, new customs, and new 
ideas by the Noi-man Conquest and the stern measures of William 
the Conqueror. A new civilization was introduced by him into 
England, and, since his day, constant changes have been going on 
by reason of commerce with other peoples and the manifold re- 
searches and pursuits of men. New inventions have, within one 
hundred years, introduced more than a thousand new words into 
our language. 

Then, also, local changes occur, and the common people of one 
section of a country acquire a different dialect from those of another 
section. In Great Britain different dialects distinguish the people 
of different localities, and yet they all speak English, and can read- 
ily understand one another. In the United States we have modes 
of speech peculiar to New England, others peculiar to the South, 
and others to the West. But think of a community or colony mi- 
grating to a distant region and becoming utterly shut off from their 
fathei'land. New scenes and pursuits in course of time obliterate 
much of the language of their former life. Their children know 
little or nothing of the old country. Each new generation adds 
new words and customs, until they come to use virtually a different 
language. Many old words will be retained, but thoy are pro- 
nounced differently, and are combined in new forms of expression, 
until we can scarcely trace their etymology. Under such circum- 
stances it would require but a few generations to bring into exis- 
tence a new language. The English language has more than eighty 
thousand words; but Shakspeare uses only fifteen thousand, and 
Milton less than ten thousand. How small a part of the language, 
then, would be necessary to a band of unlearned emigrants settling 
in a new country. The American Indians have a language for 

' A prevalent opinion among Jews and Christians has been that the original lan- 
guage was Hebrew. This opinion is due mainly to a feeling of reverence for that sa- 
cred tongue. 


every tribe, and with no literature, or schools, or civil government, 
their languages are constantly changing, and in some places with 
marvellous rapidity. 

Thus we may see how the dispersion and separation of peojiles 
and tribes originate new languages. " If the tribes of men,"' says 
Whitney, " are of different parentage, their languages could not be 
expected to be more unlike than they are; while, on the other 
hand, if all mankind are of one blood, their tongues need not be 
more alike than we actually find them to be." * 

From our own nation and standpoint we take a hasty glance 
back over the history of some five thousand years, and Families of lan- 
notice some of the great families of languages as they euages. 
have been traced and classified by modern comparative philology. 
Our English is only one of a vast group of tongues which bear 
unmistakable marks of a common origin. We trace it back to the 
Anglo-Saxon of a thousand years ago. We find it akin to the 
German, Dutch, Swedish, Danish, Icelandic, Russian, and Polish, 
and each of these, like the English, has a history of changes pecul- 
iar to itself. All these form but one family of languages, and all 
their differences are to be explained by migration, diversity of in- 
terests, habits, customs, pursuits, natural scenery, climate, religion, 
and other like causes. Manifestly, all these nations were anciently 
one people. But this whole group, called the Germanic, is but one 
branch of a greater and more extended family. The Italian, 
French, Spanish, and Portuguese form another branch, and are 
easily traced back to the Latin, the classic language of indo-European 
the old Roman Empire. The Greek, again, is but an lamiiy. 
older sister of the Latin, and its superior literature, its wealth of 
forms and harmony, has placed it first among the so-called " learned 
tongues." Passing eastward we discover many traces of the same 
family likeness in the Armenian, the Persian, and the Zend, and 
also in the Pali, the Prakrit, and other tongues of India. All these 
are found closely related to the ancient Sanskrit, the language of 
the Vedas, an older sister, though seeming like a mother, of the 
rest. All these languages are traceable to a common origin, and 
form one great family, which is appropriately called the Indo- 

Another family, less marked in aflinity, is scattered over Northern 
and Central Europe and Asia, and contains the lan- 
guages of the Laplanders, the Finns, the Hungarians, 
and the Turks in Europe. Scholars differ as to the more ajipro- 
priate name for this family, calling it either Scythian, Turanian, or 
'Language and the Study of Language, p. 394. 


Altaic. Still different from these are the languages of China and 
Japan, and the numberless dialects of the uncivilized tribes of 
America, of Africa, and of the islands of the Pacific. 

Different from all the above, and forming a well-defined and 
The Semitic closely related family, is that known as the Semitic, so 
group. called from Noah's famous son, from whom the Chaldee, 

the Hebrew, and Arabian races are believed to have sprung.' 
Here belong the Hebrew, the Punic or Phoenician, the Syriac and 
Chaldee, the cuneiform of many of the Assyrian and Babylonian 
monuments, the Arabic and the Ethiopic. These languages, as a 
group, are remarkable for the comparatively large number of stem- 
words, or roots, common to them all. The nations which used 
them were confined in geographical territory mainly to Western 
Asia, spreading from the Euphrates and Tigris on the east to the 
Mediterranean and the borders of Egypt on the west. Phoenician 
enterprise and commerce carried the Punic language westward 
into some of the islands of the Mediterranean, and along the 
Carthaginian coast : and the Ethiopic si)i*ead into 
Egypt and Abyssmia. ihe Ethiopic, or (tccz, is an 
offshoot of the Arabic, and is closely akin to the Himyaritic and 
the Amharic, which latter is now the most widely spoken dialect 
of Abyssinia. The Arabic is still a livinfj lansruaffe 

Aftibic o o o 

spoken by millions of people in Western Asia, and 

contains vast libraries of poetry and philosophy, history and fable, 

science and religion. The Phoenician lanofuas-e has al- 

Punlc. . ° . . . * 

most entirely perished, a few inscriptions and frag- 
ments only remaining. The cuneiform inscriptions of the Assyrian 

and Babylonian monuments have, in recent years, been 

Assyrian. . . j ^ 

yielding to scholarly research, and are found to contain 
many important annals and proclamations of ancient kings, and 
also works of science and of art. The language of many of the 
monuments is found to be Semitic, and its further decipherment 
and study will doubtless shed much light upon the history and 
civilization of the ancient empires of Nineveh and Babylon. 

The Syriac and Chaldee are two dialects of what is properly 
called the Aramaic language. This language prevailed among the 

' The name Semitic is not an exact designation, for, according to Genesis x, only two 
of Sliem's sons, Arpliaxad and Aram, begat nations wiiicli are known to have used this 
speech, while three of his sons, Elam, Asshur, and Lud, were the progenitors of na- 
tions whicii, peihaps, used other languages. On tlie other hand, two of the sons of 
Ham — Cush and Canaan — were fathers of Semitic-speaking peoples, llupfeld has 
proposed the name "Hither-Asiatic," and Kenan "Syro-Arabic," but these names 
have not commanded any general following, and the name Semitic has now become 
so fixed in usage that it will, probably, not be displaced by any other. 


peoples about Damascus, and thence eastward as far as Babylon, 
The Chaldee is represented in several chapters of the 


Books of Ezra and Daniel, and also in the Jewish Tar- 
gums or paraphrases of the Old Testament. It prevailed in Baby- 
lon at the time of the Jewish exile, and was there appropriated by 
the Jewish people, with whom it was vernacular in Palestine in the 
time of our Lord. The Samaritan is an offshoot of this language, 
though mixed with many foreign elements. The Syriac dialect 
appears to have been a western outgrowth and development of the 
Chaldee, and it is sometimes called the western Aramaic, as dis- 
tinguished from the eastern Aramaic, or Chaldsean. At the begin- 
ning of the Christian era it prevailed through ail the region north 
and east of Palestine, known as Syria or Aram, and its existing 
literature is principally Christian. Its oldest monument of note is 
the Peshito version of the Scriptures, which is usually referred to 
the second century; but its most flourishing period extended from 
the fourth to the ninth century. It is still the sacred language of 
the scattered Christian communities of Syria, and by some of them 
is still spoken, though in a very corrupt form. 

Central and pre-eminent among all these Semitic tongues is the 
ancient Hebrew, which embodies the magnificent liter- 


ature of one of the oldest and most important nations 
of the earth. The great father of this nation was Abram, who 
migrated from the land of the Chaldseans, crossed the Euphrates, 
and entered Canaan with the assurance that the land should be 
given to him and his posterity. Hoav closely his dialect at that 
time resembled the language of the Canaanites we have no means 
of knowing, but that he and his family abandoned their own dia- 
lect, and adopted that of the Canaanites, is in the highest degree 
improbable. The Hebrews and the Canaanites appear to have 
used substantially the same dialect. During the centuries of the 
Hebrews' residence in Egypt, and the forty years in the peninsula 
of Sinai, the Hebrew language acquired a form and character 
which thereafter underwent no essential change until after the 
time of the Babylonian exile — a period of more than a thousand 

Having thus glanced over the scattered nations and languages of 
men, we are enabled to mark the relative national and Geographical 
historical position of the Hebrew tongue. Central and historical 

^ ° position of the 

among the great nations of the earth; placed in the Hebrew, 
midst of the great highway of intercourse between the world- 
powers of the East and the West, the Hebrew people may be 
'Coinp. Gesenius, Gescbichte der heb. Spraclie und Schrift. Lpz., 1815. 


shown to have had, in many ways, a providential mission to all 
nations. Having traced the spread and outgrowth of the principal 
families of languages, and noticed the principles and methods by 
which new languages and dialects are formed, we are prepared to 
investigate more intelligently the special character and genius of 
the so-called sacred tongues. 

■ *•¥ ' 



The Hebrew language takes its name from the Hebrew nation, 
whose immortal literature it preserves. The word first appears in 
Genesis xiv, 13, where Abram is called "the Hebrew." In Gen. 
xxxix, 14, 17, Joseph, the great-grandson of Abraham, is so called, 
and he himself speaks (chap, xl, 15) of Canaan as "the land of the 
Hebrews.'" Thenceforth the name is frequently applied to the 
Derivation of (descendants of Jacob. Two different derivations of the 
the name He- name have been proposed, between which it is difficult 
'^^'^' to decide. One makes it an appellative noun from "I3y, 

beyond; applied to Abram because he came from beyond the Eu- 
phrates. Thus the name would follow the analogy of such words 
as Transylvania, Transalpine, Transatlantic. But such a designa- 
tion would scarcely be applied to one who came from beyond the 
river i-ather than to those who continued beyond, and there is no 
evidence that the Trans-Euphrateans were ever so designated. 
Nevertheless, this derivation is maintained by many distinguished 
scholars, and there is no insuperable objection to it. Another, and, 
philologically, more natural derivation, is that which makes the 
word a patronymic from I3y, £Jber, the great-grandson of Shera, 
and ancestor of Abraham. Thus in Gen. xiv, 13, where the name 
first occurs, Abram is called '''73^^, the Eberite, or Hebrew, in con- 
trast with Mamre, '"ibxH, the Amorite. This is in thorough anal- 
ogy with the regular form of Hebrew patronymics, and has in its 

' " Tiiis name is never in Scripture applied to the Israelites except when the spealcer 
i? a foreigner (Gen. xxxix, 14, 17; xli, 12; Exod. i, 15; ii, 6; 1 Sam. iv, 6, 9, etc.), 
or when Israelites speak of themselves to one of another nation (Gen. xl, 16 ; Exod. 
i, 19; Jonah i, 9, etc.), or when thej' are contrasted with other peoples (Gen. xliii, 32; 
Exod. i, 3, 7, 15; Deut. xv, 12; 1 Sam. xiii, 3, 7)." See Kitto, Cyc. of Bib. Litera- 
ture, article Hebrew. 


favour the peculiar statement of Gen. x, 21, that Shem was the 
"father of all the sons of Eber." This manifestly gives to Eber a 
notable prominence among the descendants of Shem, and may, for 
divers reasons now unknown, have given to Abraham, and to his 
descendants through Jacob, the name of Eberites, or Hebrews. 
Accordingly, while either of these derivations is possible, that 
which makes it a patronymic from Eber seems to be least open to 
objection, and best supported by linguistic usage and analogy.' 

The Hebrew language, preserved in the books of the Old Testa- 
ment, may therefore be regarded as the national speech of the 
Eberites, of whom the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob 
became the most distinguished representatives. In the later times 
of the Hebrew monarchy it was called Judaic (D^l^n^, 2 Kings 
xviii, 26), because the kingdom of Judah had then become the great 
representative of the Hebrew race. When Abram, the Hebrew, 
(Gen. xiv, 13) entered the land of Canaan, he probably found his 
ancestral language already spoken there, for the Canaanites had 
migrated thither before him (Gen. xii, 6). It is notable that in all 
the intercourse of Abram, Isaac, and Jacob with the Canaanitish 
tribes, no allusion is ever made to any differences in their language, 
and the proper names among the Canaanites are traceable to He- 
brew roots. One hundred and seventy years after the migration of 
Abram, his grandson Jacob used a form of speech different from 
that of his uncle Laban the Syrian (Gen. xxxi, 47), and it is not 
improbable that Laban's dialect had undergone more changes than 
that of the sons of Abram.' 

1 Is it not possible that Eber may have been the last great Semitic patriarch living 
at the time of the confusion of tongues (see Gen. x, 26), and that he and his family 
may have retained more nearly than any others the primitive language of mankind, 
and transmitted it through Peleg, Reu, Serug, and Nahor, to the generations of Terah 
(comp. Gen. xi, 17-27)? This supposition is not necessarily invalidated by the fact 
that Aramaeans, Cushites, and Canaanites used the same Semitic speech, for these 
tribes may, at an early date, have appropriated the language of the Eberites. 

2 It is commonly asserted that Abram used the Chaldee language when he first en- 
tered Canaan, but there gradually lost its use, and adopted the speech of his heathen 
neighbours. This supposition, however, is without any solid foundation. The fact 
incidentally mentioned in Gen. xxxi, 47, is no valid evidence in the case. It merely 
shows that Laban and Jacob used different dialects, and leaves the question entirely 
open whether it were Jacob's or Laban's dialect which had most changed subsequent- 
ly to the migration from Ur of the Chaldees (Gen. xi, 31). Abram's separateness 
from other tribes favours the idea that his language and that of his children Isaac 
and Jacob would be less likely to undergo change than that of Laban, whose idolatrous 
use of Teraphim (Gen. xxxi, 19, 30) indicates in him a cleaving to heathenish prac- 
tices. The language of the Chaldees at the period of Terah's removal may have re- 
sembled the Hebrew much more closely than the later Aramaic. The question is not 


When a person -with whom the English or any other Indo-Euro- 
pean language is vernacular, comes for the first time to investigate 

„ ,. .^. , Semitic modes of speech, he finds that he is entering 
Peculiarities of , ^ ' *=> 

the Hebrew into a new and strange world of thought. In some 
tongue. thinsfs he meets the exact reverse of all with which he 

has become familiar in his own language. The written page reads 
from right to left; the volume from the end toward the beginning; 
every letter is a consonant, and rej^resents some object of sense cor- 
responding to the meaning of its name. 

The Hebrew alphabet consists of twenty-two letters, and the 
written characters now in use, commonly called the 
square letters, are found in the oldest existing manu- 
scripts of the Bible. But these chai-acters are probably not older 
than the beginning of the Christian era, inasmuch as the Asmonean 
coins do not use them, but employ an alphabet closely resembling 
that of the Plur-nician coins and inscriptions.' The oldest monu- 
ments of Hebrew writing are some coins of the Maecabrean prince 
Simon (about B. C. 140), a number of gems containing names, and 
probably used for seals, and the famous inscription of Meslia, king 
of Moab (about B. C. 900), recently discovered among the ruins of 
the ancient Dibon on the east of the Jordan, The names of the 
letters are all significant, and their original form was, without 
doubt, designed to resemble the object denoted by the name. Thus 
the name of the first letter, aleph, X, means an ox, and it is believed 
that some resemblance of an ox's head may be discerned in the old 
Phoenician form of this letter ( -^). The third letter, gimel, J, 
means a camel, and in its ancient Phoenician \\ '\) and Ethiopic 
(*)) forms, somewhat resembles the head and neck of the camel. 
According to Gesenius, the earliest form (-^) represented the 
camel's hump. The name of the letter daleth, n, means a door, and 
the ancient form ^, or /\, (Greek A), resembles the door of a tent." 

whether the Canaanites adopted Abram's languaj^e after his migration, as Block as- 
sumes (Introii, vol. i, p. GG), but whether Abram and his father's house, the Eberites, 
may not have spoken, at the time of their westward migration, substantially the same 
language as that of the Canaanites. How long the Canaanites had boon in the land 
before Abram came is uncertain (comp. Gen. x, 18; xii, G), but perhaps not long 
enough to have undergone notable changes in their speech. 

' Tlie square character is spoken of in the Talmud as the Assyrian writing, and i8 
said to have been brought from the East by Ezra when he returned from the Baby- 
lonian exile; but this tradition, for the reasons given above, is not entitleci to credit. 

"^ See the whole alidiahct similarly oxhil)ited in Smith's Diet, of the Bible, under 
article Writing. See also the Ancient Semitic Alphabets as exhibited in Gesenius' 
Hebrew Grammar, and the Ancient Alphabets as given at the end of Webster's Un- 
abridged Dictionary. 


These forms, moreoA^er, are probably abbreviations and modifica- 
tions of still more ancient ones, which, like the hieroglyphics of 
Egypt, were real pictures or outlines of visible things/ 

Among the letters, the four gutturals X, n, n, and V have a not- 
able prominence, being much more frequently used than 
other letters. Incapable of being doubled, they greatly Gutturals. 
affect the vowel system, and the first two (X and n) represent 
scarcely audible breathings in the throat, and are frequently alto- 
gether quiescent. The two letters wato ("i, commonly called vav) 
and yodh (■•) are also frequently quiescent, and may be called the 
two vowel letters of the ancient Hebrew. They seem, as a rule, to 
have been employed only when the sounds which they represent 
were long. With the exception of these two letters the ancient 
written Hebrew seems to have had no vowel signs. The same com- 
bination of letters might signify several different things, according 
to the pronunciation received. The indefiniteness of such a mode 
of writing compares very unfavourably with the ample supply of 
vowel letters in the Indo-European tongues, and nothing but a 
familiar acquaintance with the usage of the language as a living 
tongue could supply this defect.* 

The Masoretic system of vowel signs, or points, is a comparative- 
ly modern invention, prepared to meet a real necessity Masoretic vow- 
when the Hebrew had ceased to be a living language, ei system. 
"Of the date of this punctuation of the Old Testament text," ob- 
serves Gesenius, " we have no historical account ; but a comparison 
of historical facts wai'rants the conclusion that the present vowel 
system was not completed till the seventh century after Christ; and 
that it was done by Jewish scholars, well versed in the language, 
who, it is highly probable, copied the example of the Syriac, and 
perhaps also of the Arabic, gi'ammarians. This vowel system has, 
probably, for its basis the pronunciation of the Jews of Palestine; 
and its consistency, as well as the analogy of the kindred languages, 
furnishes strong proof of its correctness, at least as a whole. We 
may, however, assume that it exhibits not so much the pronun- 
ciation of common life as the formal style, which, in the seventh 
century after Christ, was sanctioned by tradition and custom in 
reading the Scriptures in the schools and synagogues. Its authors 
laboured with great care to represent by signs the minute grada- 

• Comp. Bottcher, Ausfiihrliches Lehrbuch der hebraischen Sprache, vol. i, pp. 65, 66. 

* " A Semitic root," says Bopp, " is unpronounceable, because, in giving it vowels, 
an advance is made to a special grammatical form, and it then no longer possesses 
the simple peculiarity of a root raised above all grammar." Comparative Grammar, 
vol. i, p. 108 ; Eng. Trans., p. 98. 


tions of the vowel sounds, marking even half vowels and help- 
ing sounds, spontaneously adopted in all languages, yet seldom 
expressed in writing." ' 

The ancient Hebrew writing being, accordingly, expressed al- 
too-ether by consonants, the vowel sounds were quite subordinate 
to them, and formed no conspicuous element of the language. 
"Words and names are exhibited by consonants, to which alone 
sifniifications may be traced, but relations of thought, modifications 
of the sense of words, and grammatical inflection, were denoted by 
vowel sounds. 

One of the most marked features of the language is the tri- 
The three-let- literal root of all its verbs. This peculiarity is a fun- 
terroot. damental characteristic of all the Semitic tongues. 

No satisfactory reason for its existence, or account of its origin, 
has yet been produced, though a vast amount of study and research 
has been expended on the subject. Some have maintained that 
this triplicity of radical consonants is the result of a philological 
and historical development. Indications of this are found in mon- 
osyllabic nouns (like 2S, DwS', Ui, "in, T), and verbs which double one 
of their letters (22^, 33D, nnt^'), and also in those verbs in which one 
of the consonants is so weak and servile as to suggest that, origi- 
nally, it was no radical element of the word (pi or jn, 31t3, HID). 
Hence the doctrine of a primitive system of two-letter roots has 
been advanced and defended with great learning and ingenuity. 
But no satisfactory results have come from these efforts, and the 
theory of two-letter roots has not obtained a general following 
among philologists. Why may not these primitive roots of the 
language have been formed of three letters as well as two ? The 
uniformity and universality of the verbal root of three letters argue 
that this is an original and fundamental characteristic of Semitic 

A most important and interesting feature of the language is the 
conjupations manner in which the different conjugations or voices of 
of the verb. ^j^g verb are formed. The third person singular of 
the perfect (or past) tense is the ground form from wliich all 
model changes take their departure." These ckanges consist in 
varying the vowels, doubling the middle letter of the root, and 
adding certain formative letters or syllables. In some rare forms 
there is a repetition or reduplication of one or two of the radical 

• Davies' Gesenius' Hebrew Graminar (Mitchell's Edition), pp. 32, 33. Andover, 1880. 
The simple participial form ^to'p, or the imperative ^bf?, may perhaps present 
equal claim to be the basal form of the Hebrew verb. Cornp. Weir, iu Kitto's Journal 
of Sacred Literature for Oct., 1849, pp. 309, 310. 


consonants. Since the time of the great Hebraist Danz (about 
A.D. 1 700) the verb ^Dp, hatal, has been used as a grammatical 
paradigm to illustrate the various conjugations of the Hebrew 
verb, and though grammarians have differed somewhat in the 
number and arrangement of the conjugations^ common usage 
adheres to the following general outline: 

Kal/ f'Pi?, Katal, he killed. 

Niphal, ^Dpj, mUal, he was killed. 

Piel, PtSip, Kittel, he massacred. 

Pual, 7tDp, Kuttal, he was massacred. 

Hiphil, ^^npn, Hiktil, he caused to kill. 
Hophal, fjDpn, Hoktal, he was caused to kill. 


Hithpael, ?t|)pnn, Hithkattel, he killed himself. 

From the above it will be noticed that the simple, the intensive 
and the causative forms have each a corresponding passive. The 
reflexive, from its very nature, would not be expected to have a 
corresponding passive, and yet a few rare instances occur of a 
Hothpaal or Huthpaal form (nx^tsn, to be made unclean, Deut. 
xxiv, 4; nxnn, to be smeared over loithfat, Isa. xxxiv, 6). It should 
be noticed in the paradigm how the idea of activity seems to attach 
to the a sound, while the e, o, and ic sounds are used in forms which 
express passiveness. The doubling of roots expresses intensity, 
and the prefixing of letters denotes some form of reflexive action. 

'The origin of the terms Kal, Niphal, Piel, etc., is thus stated by Nordheimer: 
"The first investigators of the language, wh.o were Jews, wrote in Hebrew, and ac- 
cordingly employed Hebrew expressions for the designation of grammatical phenom- 
ena. To denote the first or simple species they used the word pp, Kal, light, simple ; 
a term which modern grammarians have found it convenient to retain. And to rep- 
resent the remaining species they took the modifications of the verb ^ys, to do, to 

— T 

make, which itself supplies the name for this part of speech. Thus, instead of a 
term derived from the signification of that form of the verb which receives the prefi.x 
J, such as the word passive, they employed, as a sort of grammatical formula, the cor- 
responding modification of the verb ^;y2, which is ^p£)j, Niphal, and so on of the 

rest." — Critical Grammar of the Hebrew Language, vol. i, p. 97. 


But it must not be understood that there are always exact corre- 
spondence and uniformity in the significations of these several 
Import of the forms. The Niplial is very generally the passive of 
conjugations. 'Kal, and the older Hel)re\v grammarians were wont to 
regard it as strictly so; but, like the Greek middle voice, it is used 
also to express reflexive and reciprocal action. So also the Piel con- 
jugation is used to express not only intensity of action, but repeti- 
tion and frequency, and sometimes it has a causative signification. 
There are also other forms, so rare and exceptional as not to be 
classed along with the conjugations of the usual paradigm, but 
which represent peculiar shades of meaning not otherwise ex- 
pressible. Such forms are the so-called Pilel (^^tpi?), Pealal (^P^i^pp), 
Tiphel (i'tj?!?^), and other forms peculiar to certain irregular verbs. 
In the Arabic language there are fifteen such different conjuga- 
tions of the verb, though in that language, as in the Hebrew, no 
one verb is used in all its possible forms. 

The tense-system of the HebrcAv verb is very unlike that of the 
Indo-European languages. Some scholars have gone so 

Tenses or tune- i o o o 

rorms of the far as to deny that the Hebrew language has any ver- 
He lew verb. -^^^ forms which can properly be designated tenses. 
Sir W. Martin observes that the forms of the Hebrew verb com- 
monly called preterite and future, or perfect and imperfect, " are 
not tenses in the proper sense; i. e., the notion of time as past, 
present, or future, is not inherent in the form. They note only 
actions or conditions, and the persons of whom such actions or 
conditions are predicated. They predicate a certain state of a cer- 
taiii subject, and no more. The time to which the action or condi- 
tion, expressed by the form, belongs in each case, is to be gathered 
from the context. The present time is understood if none other is 
suggested by the context. The difference between the two forms 
is not, then, any dift'erence in time, but a difference in the way of 
conceiving the action or condition. The forms then may be accu- 
rately described as moods indicating modes of thought rather than 
as tenses. These moods, taken in connexion with indications of 
time supplied by the context, and so having their generality lim- 
ited and restricted, become equivalent to our tenses. Viewed as 
moods, they differ from each other much in the same way as he- 
coming from being, as motion from rest, as progress from comple- 
tion.'''' ' Similarly Wright remarks concerning the tenses of the 
Arabic verb: "The temporal forms of the Arabic verb are but two 
in number, the one expressing a finished act, one that is done and 

'Inquiries concerning the Structure of the Semitic Languages. Part i, p. 11 
London, 1876. 


completed in relation to other acts (the perfect); the other an un- 
finislied act, one that is jiist commencing or in progress (the imper- 
fect)." He adds: "We have discarded the names Preterite and 
Future, by Avhich these forms are still often designated, especially 
in our Hebrew and Syriac grammars, because they do not accu- 
rately corresi^ond to the ideas inherent in them. A Semitic per- 
fect or imperfect has, in and of itself, no reference to the tem- 
jDoral relations of the speaker (thinker or writer), and of other 
actions which are broxaght into juxtaposition with it. It is pre- 
cisely these relations which determine in what sphere of time 
(past, present, or future) a Semitic perfect or imperfect lies, and 
by which of our tenses it is to be expressed." ' 

The Indo-European tongues have distinct verbal forms to express 
an action of the past as either continuing (imperfect, _ ,. 

, , ^ . Unlike Indo- 

as, Iioas toriting), or completed definitely (pluperfect, European tense 
I had written), or indefinitely (aorist, I torote). They ^°''"^^- 
also have forms for expressing action as continuing in the present 
(as I am loritmg), and as completed in the present (perfect, I have 
written), and other forms for exj^ressing future action in a like two- 
fold way {I xoill write, and I will have written). Eut the less sys- 
tematic and more emotional Semitic mind seems to have conceived 
the temporal relations of subject and predicate in a somewhat ideal 
way. In whatever position or point of view a si^eaker or writer 
took his stand, he seems to have viewed all things as having some 
subjective relation to that standpoint. Time with him was an 
ever-continuing series of moments (^''^j"), loinJcs of the eye). The 
past was ever running into the future, and. the future ever losing 
itself in the past. The future tense-form which he _ , , , 

i Ideal and rela- 

used may have actually referred to events of the re- tive past and 
mote iDast, but to hifn it was an ideal future, taking its " "'^*^' 
departure from some anterior event either expressed or under- 
stood." It is a characteristic of the Hebrew writers to throw them- 
selves into the midst of the scenes or events which they describe, 

'Grammar of the Arabic Language, from the German of Caspari, vol. i, pp. 53. 54. 
Second Edition, London, ISH. Compare the similar views of Ewald, Ausfiihrliches 
Lehrbuch der heb. Sprache, §§ 135, 136, pp. 348-35S (Gottingen, 1870), and Driver, 
On the Use of the Tenses in Hebrew, Oxford, 1874. Ewald's doctrine of the He- 
brew Tenses was contioverted by Prof. M. Stuart in the Biblical Repository for .Jan., 
1838, pp. 146-173, and Driver's treatise is reviewed by A. Miiller in the Zeitschrift 
fiir kith. Theolcgie. 1877, i, p. 198. 

^ Murphy suggests that the two tense-forms of the Hebrew verb be designated re- 
spectively as the anterior and posterior. See his article on the Hebrew Tenses, in 
Kitto's Journal of Sacred Literature for Jan., 1850 (pp. 194-202), and comp. Weir 
on the same subject in the same Journal for Oct., 1849. Weir observes (p. 317): 


and this consideration largely accounts for the subjective and ideal 
way in -svhich the two tense-forms (POj? and ?b\^\) are employed. 
Thus, at the beginning of Genesis (i, 1), we have first the definite 
statement, " In the beginning God created (^"^3) the heavens and 
the land." This statement serves as a headinor to the narrative 
that follows. Having taken that beginning as a historical stand- 
point, the writer next describes the condition of things at that be- 
giiming, still using the past tense-form: "And the land was (nri'n) 
waste and empty, and darkness upon the face of the deep, and the 
Spirit of God brooding (DSniJp, feminine participle, kej^t broodhuj) 
upon the face of the waters." Such was the state of things in the 
midst of which the narrator took his ideal stand; and from that 
starting point he pi'oceeds to relate the succession of events. His 
next verb is in the future or imperfect tense-form: "And God will 
say. Let there be light;" or as we would more familiarly say, then 
says God (DTipX l^N'}), that is, God then, or next, proceeded to say, 
etc. The tense-thought here is that the divine fiat, " Let there be 
light," was consequent upon the period and condition of darkness 
which was upon the deep. A succession of thought and a prog- 
ress of time are thus indicated, a mode of conception peculiar to 
the Semitic mind, but not naturally transferable to our language. 

The past or perfect tense-form is also used when speaking of 
The past tense things to be Certainly realized in the future. In such 
form for fu- cascs the event of the future is conceived as somehow 
ceived of as completed; it has become a foregone conclusion and 
complete. settled purpose of the Divine mind. Thus, for exam- 

ple, in Gen. xvii, 20: "As for Ishmael, I have heard thee (l"'J^Prv', 
this hearing was actually past); behold, I have blessed him ("'rip'ia), 
and I have made him fruitful ('nnsn), and I have multiplied him 
(''ri*3"]n) exceedingly." All this was to be realized in the future, 
but it is here presented to the mirid as something already finished. 
It was fixed in the Divine purpose, and from an ideal standpoint 
in the future it was viewed as something past. Then it is immedi- 
ately added: " Twelve princes shall he beget (Tpi"', here the indefi- 
nite future is both assumed and expressed), and I have given him 
(vnnj) for a great nation." This last verb again assumes an ideal 

" The Hebrew writers, instead of keeping constantly in view the period at which 
they wrote, and employing^ a variety of tenses to describe the different shades of 
past, present, and fiUnre time, accomplished the same object by keeping their own 
times quite out of view, and regarding as their present the period not at which, but 
of which, they wrote." He accordingly takes the 7Dp form (commonly called past 

or perfect) to denote the present, not, however, excluding the idea of a past action 
or condition contiiuiitig on into the prc^^ent. 


past, a something seen in the mind as complete after Ishmael shall 
have begotten twelve princes. 

The past and future import of the two tense-forms, as standing- 
opposed to each other in the indication of time, is apparent in such 

passages as, " Before them there have been (riM) no 

T ° , ,„ Vtt/ The two tenses 

such locusts as they, and after them there shall not be have a past and 
(n:^:) such" (Exod. X, 14). "As I was On^^^) with *"t"^e import. 
Moses, I will be {^:;^ii) with thee" (Josh, i, 5). "Yea, I have 
spoken (W3"i), also I will bring to pass (n3N''3N); I have formed a 
purpose i'^'pl), also I will perform it " (Isa. xlvi, 11). But in view 
of the fact, set forth by the best grammarians, that the past tense 
is used for the perfect, the pluperfect, the present, and the future, 
and the future tense is used for the present and the past,* these 
different tense-forms of the Hebrew language are to be understood, 
not as corresponding to the more fully developed tense-system of 
Indo-European tongues, but as exhibiting a peculiarity of the Sem- 
itic mind, which was wont to view the temporal relation of events 
in the vivid ideal way explained above. Both the past and future 
forms of the verb are often best translated into English by the 
present tense. The past form often indicates a past action which 
is conceived of as continuing into the present, and having become 
habitual. " The ox knows (yT) his owner, and the ass the crib of 
his master " (Isa. i, 3). Observe also, in Psa. i, 1 : " Happy the man 
who walks not ('i]b[) NP, has ceased from walking) in the counsel of 
wicked ones, and in the way of sinners does not stand, and in the 
Beat of scorners does not sit." Here it is not difficult to apprehend, 
in the tense-form used, an ideal of the past, but it is scarcely prac- 
ticable, except by undesirable circumlocution, to transfer the con- 
ception into simple idiomatic English. The future form is often 
used to express the vivid Semitic conception of a past act-ion, or 
series of actions, as continuing, or as succeeding one another. 
Thus, in 1 Sam. xxvi, 17, 18, we may express the Hebrew futures 
by the English present: "And Saul knows the voice of David, 
and he says. Is this thy voice, my son David ? And says David, 
My voice, my lord, O king. And he says. Why is this — my lord 
pursuing after his servant ? " 

In the inflexion ^ of Hebrew nouns there is no neuter gender, 

' See Gesenius, Heb. Gram., §§ 126, 127, and Nordheimer, Crit. Gram, of the He* 
brew Language, vol. ii, pp. 161-174. 

' " A regular inflexion of the noun by cases does not exist in Hebrew. . . . The 
connexion of the noun with the feminine, with the dual and plural terminations, with 
suffixes, and with another noun foUpwing in the genitive, produces numberless changes 
in its form, which is all that is meant by the inflexion of nouns in Hebrew. Even 


All objects of nature, inaiiiinate things, and abstract ideas are viewed 
The gender of ^^ instinct with life, and spoken of as either masculine 
nouns. or feminine. Mountains, rivers, seas, being objects 

of majesty and representing strength, are usually masculine. And 
they are often pictured before the fancy as consciously exulting 
and moving with exuberance of life. Thus the mountains watch 
with a jealous e)''e (nvi, Psa. Ixviii, 16), they rejoice together (Psa. 
xcviii, 8), and break forth into song (Isa. xliv, 23), and even leap 
and dance like rams (Psa. cxiv, 4, 6). The rushing torrents lift up 
their voice and clap their hands (Psa. xciii, 3; xcviii, 8), and the 
sea beholds, and flies (Psa. cxiv, 3). The words for city, land, lo- 
cality, and the like, are feminine, being thought of as mothers of 
those who dwell therein. The smaller and dependent towns were 
called daughters of the principal city (Num. xxi, 25; Josh, xvii, 11). 
The names of things without life are generally feminine, probably 
from being regarded as weak and helpless. Abstract ideas are also 
usually represented as feminine. We are not able to understand, 
in all instances, why this or that word came to be used in its par- 
ticular gender, but this whole habit of thought and language had 
its origin in an intense lively intuition of nature. 

The use of the plural number in Hebrew seems often to denote 
Use of the "ot SO much a plurality of individuals as fulness, vast- 
piurai. ness, majesty, or completeness of endowments. Thus 

the first word of the first Psalm, which we commonly render as an 
adjective — " Blessed is the man," etc. — is a noun in the plural num- 
ber (^|it^^?) ; literally, the blessednesses of the man. We bring out its 
real force when we take it as an exclamation: the blessednesses of 
the man, etc.! The idea may be either the manifoldness and multi- 
plicity of blessedness, or the completeness and greatness of blessed- 
ness. The word for life is often plural, as in Gen. ii, V, " breathed 
into his nostrils the breath of lives " (D"".n) ; verse 9 has " tree of 
lives" and chap, vii, 22, "breath of the spirit of lives.'''' Here the 
meaning cannot be, as some have suggested, twofold life — animal 
and spiritual, for the plural is used alike of the life of tree, animal, 
and man. It seems rather to denote fulness and completeness of 
life. So the words for water (d;'0) and heaven (D'Pv'O ^^'^ always 
used in the plural, probably from the idea of vastness or majesty. 
This is also the best explanation of the plural form of the name of 
God (QVi^K) ; what the old grammarians called the plural of excel- 
lency, expressing the dignity and manifold power of the Creator of 
all things. 

for the comparative and superlative, the Hebrew has no appropriate forms, and these 
relations must be expressed by circumlocution." tSesenius, Ileb. Grammar, § '70, 2. 


The foregoing statement of the philological and grammatical 
peculiarities of the Hebrew lanauaoe may sei've to , , 

^ . . . ... Hebrew a prmi- 

show that it is a most ancient and primitive type of itive type of in- 
human speech, and admirably adapted to express vivid ™^° speech. 
conceptions and strong emotion. Every letter, as well as every 
word, represents some visible or material object, and the studious 
observer may pass among its written monuments as through a pic- 
ture gallery, and feel that the images of life are all around him. 

Keeping in mind what has been said, we proceed to show the 
simplicity of structure, and the emotional expressiveness of this 
sacred language, and its consequent fitness to embody and preserve 
the ancient oracles of God. 

Opening almost anywhere in the narrative portions of the Old 
Testament, we find abundant evidence of the simplicity simplicity of 
of Hebrew syntax. The sentences are ordinarily short structure. 
and vividly expressive. The so-called compound sentences rarely 
involve any trouble or obscurity, being usually only two or more 
short sentences, whose relation to each other is most direct and 
simple. There are no involved constructions and long-drawn periods. 
The first chapter of Genesis may be taken as a specimen of prose 
narrative, the most simple and natural in its construction of any 
composition known to literature. Whatever may be the dilHcul- 
ties in its exj)osition, its grammatical structure is simple and in- 
telligible. The following verse from the beginning of the second 
chapter of 2 Samuel may be taken as a very fine example of lively 
narrative : 

Aud it came to pass after this, that David inquires of Jehovah, saj'ing, 
Shall I go up into one of the cities of Judah? Aud says Jehovah to him, 
Go up. Aud says David, Whither shall I go up? And he says, To 

Or take the following, from 1 Kings xix, 19-21 : 
And he goes from there, and he finds Elisha, the son of Sliaphat, aud he 
ploughing, twelve yoke before liim, and he with the twelfth: and Elijah 
passes over unto him, and throws his mantle unto him. And he leaves the 
oxen, and he runs after Elijah, and says, I will kiss, now, my father and my 
mother, and I will go after thee. And he says to him. Go, Return, for 
what have I done to thee ? Aud he returns from after him, and he takes 
the yoke of the oxen and he slaugliters liim, and with the instruments of 
the oxen he boiled them, the flesh ; and he gives to the people, and they 
eat, aud he arises, and he goes after Elijah, and he serves him. 

In these translations we have used the present tense where the 
Hebrew has the future, as best conveying the spirit of the narra- 
tive. The writer views the whole scene, and depicts the several 


parts as they follow one after the other. Those several acts are 
relatively future from the jjoint of time he ideally occupies, and his 
successive sentences are short, rapid, and life-like in their arrange- 
ment. Hundreds of similar specimens might be adduced, taken 
almost at random from the Hebrew scriptures. 

In very many of the most simple sentences, the subject and pred- 
Omission of icate are placed together without any connective par- 
copuia. tide or copula. Thus, 1 Kings i, 1, " The king David (was) 

old ;" 1 Kings xviii, 21, " If Jehovah (be) the God ;" Prov. xx, 1, "A 
mocker (is) wine ; raging (is) strong drink." This omission in prose 
narrative may often be supplied to advantage in translation, being 
required by the idiom of another language to complete the sense, and 
maintain grammatical accuracy. But the omission gives strength 
and beauty to many passages, as, for instance, the following, Psa. 
Ixvi, 3: "How fearful thy doings!" The attempt of the Author- 
ized Version to supply here what was supposed to be necessary 
greatly weakens the sentiment : " How terrible art thou in thy 
works." So again in Psa. xc, 2, "From everlasting to everlasting 
thou, God!" Again, in verse 4, "A thousand years in thy eyes, 
as yesterday." It may, in fact, be said that the italic words 
supplied in the Authorized Version detract from the force and 
spirit of the original in more instances than they supply any essen- 
tial need. 

In the order of words in a sentence, subject or predicate may be 
Order of sub- P^^'^^^''^ ^Y&t, accoj-ding as it is designed to give emphasis 
ject aad predi- to the one or the other. Very frequently the sentence 
opens with a verb, and, according to Gesenius, every 
finite verb contains in all cases its subject already in itself under 
the form of a personal pronoun, Avhich is necessarily connected with 
the verbal form.' Thus, Gen. ii, 1, "And they were finished, the 
heavens, and the land, and all their host." When two or more 
verbs are construed with a single subject, the first is usually placed 
before the noun, and the others follow, as so many distinct state- 
ments. Thus, Gen. vii, 18, "And they prevailed, the waters, and 
they increased exceedingly upon the land ; and she went, the ark, 
upon the face of the waters." 

In the Hebrew language there is a comparative lack of adjec- 
tives. As a substitute, nouns expressive of qualitv, 

. . , 1 , ^ . . p / Adjectives, 

material, or character, are used as genitives after the 

nouns to be qualified. Thus, instead of golden crown, we have 

croion of gold ; instead of holy mountain, we have mountain of 

holiness. For eloquent man (Exod. iv, 10) the Hebrew is tnan of 

' Hebrew Grammar, § 144, 2. 


words. Tlie knowing or intelligent man is called a man of knowl- 
edge (Prov. xxiv, 5). This Hebraic usage appears often in the 
New Testament Greek. In accordance with this usage the adjec- 
tives proper almost invariably follow the nouns which they qualify. 
Thus a toise man, the great river, would be expressed in Hebrew, 
a man wise, river the great. The primitive conception, lying at the 
basis of this usage, would seem to be that of an additional word 
designed to modify the one just uttered. More fully, then, the 
above examples would be: a man — a icise one; the river — the great 
one. But when the adjective is used as an emphatic predicate, it 
usually stands first in the sentence, as, " Good and just is Jehovah " 
(Psa. XXV, 8). 

There is no formal comparison of adjectives in Hebrew. The 
comparative degree is indicated by a use of the prepo- Methods of 
sition fro)n (p) prefixed to the word with which the comparison, 
comparison is made. Thus: "The serpent was crafty from every 
beast of the field" (Gen. iii, l); that is, more crafty; his cunning 
distinguished him from other beasts. The superlative is expressed 
by means of the article, or a suffix, or some 2:)eculiar form of ex- 
pression which indicates the highest degree. Thus, the youngest 
is tJie little one (jbipri. Gen. xlii, 1-3). The most abject slave is a 
servant of serva^nts (Gen. ix, 25) ; the holiest place is the holy of 
holies ; the most excellent song is Ci'''l^Ci^'n ~i''t?', the song ofsongs.^ 

The Hebrew particles, namely, adverbs, prepositions, conjunc- 
tions, and interjections, are amons: the most delicate 


and interesting parts of the language. In order to a 
keen and discriminating insight into the spirit and bearing of nu- 
merous passages, it is necessary to master the force and usage of 
these little words. Usually the grammars and lexicons supply all 
the essential information, but it is only by intimate familiarity with 
the language that we come to appreciate their delicate and vary- 
ing shades of meaning. 

' Xordheimer (Heb. Grammar, vol. ii, p. 60) designates as " the absolute superla- 
tive" those striking Hebraic expressions in which a noun is construed with one of 
the divine names. Thus, we have wrestlhigx of God (Gen. xxx, 8), a mountain of 
God (Psa. Ixviii, 15), mountains of God {El, Psa. xxxvi, 6), cedars of God (Psa. Ixxx, 
10), trees of Jehovah (civ, 16), and sleep of Jehovah (1 Sam. xxvi, 12). But these 
genitives are not to be understood as designating, adjectively, a degree of excellence 
or of intensity. Rachel would vividly portray her wrestlings with her sister Leah as 
wrestlings wliich she had carried on witli God himself. By the mountains of God (or 
of El) the psalmist means God's mountains, mountains which God brought forth (comp. xc, 3). So, too, the cedars of God and the trees of Jehovah are trees which 
are regarded as the workmanship of God. The sleep of Jehovah (1 Sam. xxvi, 12) 
was a slumber which Jehovah caused to fall upon Saul and his attendants. 


Hebrew Poetry. 

Much of the Old Testament is composed in a style and form of 
^,. ^ . . language far above that of simple prose. The his- 

Old Testament o» rr ^ 

largely poeti- torical books abound in spirited addresses, odes, lyrics, 
^^^" psalms, and fragments of song. The books of Job, 

Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, and Song of Solomon, are highly 
poetical, and the prophetical books (D''J'nnK D''i<''3J, later 2^'>'op/tetiS of 
IlebreAv Canon) are mainly of the same order. Nearly one half of 
the Old Testament is written in this poetic style. But the poetry of 
the Hebrews has peculiarities as marked and distinct from that of 
other nations as the language itself is different from other families 
of languages. Its metre is not that of syllables, but of sentences 
and sentiments. Properly speaking, Hebrew jDoetry knows nothing 
Not metrical ^^ metrical feet and versification analogous to the poet- 
ic structure, ical forms of the Indo-European tongues. The learned 
and ingenious attempts of some scholars to construct a system of 
Hebrew metres are now generally regarded as failures. There are 
discernible an elevated style, a harmony and parallelism of sen- 
tences, a sonorous flow of graphic words, an artificial arrangement 
of clauses, repet^itions, transpositions, and rhetorical antitheses, 
which are the inmost life of poetry. But the form is nowhere that 
of syllabic metre.* Some scholars have supposed that, since the 
Hebrew became a dead language, the ancient pronunciation is so 
utterly lost that it is therefore impossible now to discover or re- 
store its ancient metres. But this, at best, is a doubtful hypoth- 
esis, and has all probabilities against it. There is every reason 
to believe that the Masoretie pronunciation now in use is in the 
main correct, and substantially the same as that of the ancient 

' On the subject of Hebrew poetry, see Lowth, Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews, in 
Latin, with notes of Michaelis, Rosenmuller, and others (Oxford, 1828), and English 
Translation, edited by Stowc (Andovcr, 1820), and the rrelimiiiary Dissertation to his 
Isaiah; Bellermann, Versuch iibor die Metrik dor IleljriLer (Iknlin, ISIT,); Saalschutz, 
Form der hebraischen Poesie nebst einer Abhandlung iiber die Musik der Hebraer 
(Konigsb., 1825), and the same author's Form und Gcist der hebraischen Poesie 
(1853); Ewald, Die poctischen Biichor des altcn Bundes, vol. i. Translated by Nichol- 
son in Kitto's Journal of Sacred Literature for Jan. and April, 1848; Herder, Spirit 
of Hebrew Poetry, English Translation, in two vols., by James Marsh (Burlington, 
Vt., IS.'JS); L'inac Taylor, The Spirit of Hebrew Poetry (Phila., 1873); De Wettc, In- 
troduction to his Coiiinioiitar iiber die Psalnion, pp. 32-().3. Most of the more impor- 
tant works upon the Psalms, and the Biblical Cyclopaedias, contain valuable disserta- 
tions on Hebrew Poetry and Parallelism. 


The distinguishing feature of Hebrew poetry is now generallv 
acknowledged to be the parallelism of members. This 

111 ..ij- r 11 ,..-, Parallelism the 

would be a very natural form lor such short and vivid distinguishing 
sentences as characterize Hebrew syntax. Let the soul *^^'^'^^6- 
be filled with deep emotion; let burning passions move the heart, 
and sparkle in the eye, and speak loudly in the voice, and the simple 
sentences of Hebrew prose would spontaneously take poetic form. 
In illustration of this we may instance the exciting controversy of 
Jacob and Laban in Gen, xxxi. The whole chapter is like a pas- 
sage from an ancient epic; but when we read the speeches of Laban 
and Jacob we seem to feel the wild throbbings of their human pas- 
sions. The sj)eeches are not cast in the artificial harmony of par- 
allelism which appears in the poetical books; but we shall best ob- 
serve their force by presenting them in the following form. After 
seven days' hot pursuit, Laban overtakes Jacob in Mount Gilead, 
and assails him thus: 

What hast tliou done ? I 

And thou hast stolen my heart, 

And hast carried off my daughters 

As captives of the sword. 

Why didst thou hide thyself to flee? 

And thou hast stolen me, 

And thou didst not inform me, 

And I would have sent thee away with joy, 

And with songs, with timbrel and with harp. 

And thou didst not permit me to kiss my sons and my daughters! 

Now hast thou played the fool — to do! 

It is to the God of my liand 

To do with you an evil. 

But the God of your father 

Yesternight said to me, saying: 

Guard thyself from speaking with Jacob from good to evil. 

And now, going thou hast gone ; 

For longing thou hast longed for the house of thy father. 

Why hast thou stolen my gods ? Verses 26-30. 

After the goods have been searched, and no gods found, " Jacob 
was wroth, and chode with Laban," and uttered his pent-up emo- 
tion in the following style: 

What my trespass. 

What my sin, 

Tliat thou hast been burning afber me? 

For thou hast been feeling all my vessels; 

What hast thou found of all the vessels of thy house? 


Place here — 

Before my brethren and thy brethren, 

And let theu decide between us two. 

This twenty year I with thee ; 

Thy ewes and thy goats have not been bereft, 

And the rams of thy flock have I not eaten. 

The torn I brought not to thee ; 

I atoned for it. 

Of my hand didst thou demand it, 

Stolen by day, 

Or stolen l)y night. 

I have been — 

In the day heat devoured me, 

And cold in the night, 

And my sleep fled from my eyes. 

This to me twenty year in thy house. 

I served thee fourteen year for two of thy daughters, 

And six years for thy flock ; 

And thou hast changed my wages ten parts. 

Unless the God of my father, 

The God of Abraham and the fear of Isaac, were for me,- 

That now empty tliou hadst sent me away. 

The affliction and tlie labour of my hands 

God has seen, 

And he was judging yesternight. Verses 36-42. 

Tliis may not be poetry, iu the strict sense ; but it is certainly 
not the language of common prose. The rapidity of movement, 
the emotion, tlie broken lines, and the abrupt transitions, serve to 
show how a language of such peculiar structure as tlie Hebrew 
might early and naturally develop a poetic form, whose distinguish- 
in"- feature would be a harmony of successive sentences, or some 
artilicial concord or contrast of different sentiments, rather than 
syllabic versification. Untrammeled by metric limitations, the He- 
brew poet enjoyed a peculiar freedom, and could utter the moving 
sentiments of passion in a great variety of forms. 

We cannot too strongly emphasize the fact that some structural 
Form essential ^01'"^ is essential to all poetry. The elements of poetry 
to poetry. are invention, inspiration, and expressive form. But 

all possible genius for invention, and all the inspiration of most 
fervent passion, would go for nothing without some suitable mould 
in which to set them forth. When the creations of genius and in- 
spiration have taken a monumental form in language, that form 
becomes an essential part of the wdiole. Hence (he impossibility 
of translating the poetry of Homer, or Virgil, or David, into Eng- 


Hsh prose, or the prose of any other language, i^nd at the same time 

preserving the power and spirit of the original. 

Bayard Taylor's translation of Goethe's Faust is a masterpiece 

in this, that it is a remarkably successful attempt to „ 

' •' ^ Bayard Taylor 

transfer from one language to another not merely the on form in 
thoughts, the sentiment, and the exact meaning of the ^°^^^^- 
author, but also the form and rhythm. Mr. Taylor argues very 
forcibly, and we think truly, that " the value of form in a poetical 
work is the first question to be considei'ed. Poetry," he observes, 
" is not simply a fashion of expression ; it is the form of expression 
absolutely required by a certain class of ideas. Poetry, indeed, 
may be distinguished from prose by the single circumstance that it 
is the utterance of whatever in man cannot be perfectly uttered in 
any other than a rhythmical form. It is useless to say that the naked 
meaning is independent of the form. On the contrary, the form 
contributes essentially to the fulness of the meaning. In poetry 
which endures through its own inherent vitality, there is no forced 
union of these two elements. They are as intimately blended, and 
with the same mysterious beauty, as the sexes in the ancient Her- 
maphroditus. To attempt to represent jioetry in prose is very 
much like attempting to translate music into speech."^ 

How impossible to translate perfectly into any other form the 
following passage from Milton : 

Now storming fury rose, 
And clamour such as heard in Heaven till now 
Was never; arms on armour clashing brayed 
Horrible discord, and the maddening wheels 
Of brazen cliariots raged ; dire was the noise 
Of conflict; overhead tlie dismal hiss 
Of fiery darts in flaming volleys flew, 
And flying vaulted either host with fire. 
So under fiery cope together rushed 
Both battles main, with ruinous assault 
And inextinguishable rage. All Heaven 
Resounded, and had earth been then, all earth 
Had to her centre shook. What wonder? whea 
Millions of fierce encountering angels fought 
On either side, the least of whom could wield 
These elements, and arm him with the force 
Of all their regions.^ 

The very form of this passage, as it stands before the reader's 
eye, contributes not a little to the emotions produced by it in the 

' Preface to Translation of Goethe's Faust. 
« Paradise Lost, Book vi, lines 207-223. 


soul of a man of taste. Change the order of the words, or attempt 
to state their naked meaning in prose, and the very ideas will seem 
to vanish. The grandeur and beauty of the passage are due as 
much to the rhythm, the emphatic collocation of Avords, the express- 
iveness of the form in which the Avhole is placed before us, as to 
the sublime conceptions they embody. But if so much is due to 
the form of poetic writing, much must be lost from any noble poem 
when transferred to another language shorn of these elements of 
power. The least we can do is to make prominent in our transla- 
tions the measured forms of the original. So far as it may be done 
without too great violence to the idioms of our own tongue, we 
should preserve the same order of words, emphatic forms of state- 
ment, and abrupt transitions. In these respects Hebrew poetry is 
Hebrew spirit pi'^^bably more capable of exact translation than that of 
and form may anv Other lanccuasfe. For there is no rhvme, no metric 
servedTnu-ans- Scale, to be translated. Two things it is essential to 
lation. preserve — the spirit and the form, and both of these 

are of such a nature as to make it possible to reproduce them to a 
great extent in almost any other language,' 

' Xo man, perhaps, has shown a greater power to present in English the real^spirit 
of Hebrew poetry than Tayler Lewis. The following version of Job iv, 12-21, while 
not exactly following the Hebrew collocation of the words, and giving to some words 
a meaning scarcely sustained by Hebrew usage, does, nevertheless, bring out the spirit 
and force of the original in a most impressive way : 

To me, at times, there steals a warning word ; 

Mine ear its whisper seems to catch. 

In troubled thoughts from spectres of the night, 

Wlieu falls on men the vision-seeing trance,— 

And fear has come, and trembling dread, 

And made my every bone to thrill with awe, — 

'Tis then before me stirs a breathing form ; 

O'er all my flesh it makes the hair rise up. 

It stands; no face distinct can I discern; 

An outline is before mine eyes ; 

Deep silence ! then a voice I hear: 

Is mortal man more just than God ? 

Is boasting man more pure than he who made him ? 

In his own servants, lo, he tnistetb not, 

Even on his angels doth he charge defect. 

Much more to them who dwell in homes of clay, 

With their foundation laid in dust. 

And crumbled like the moth 

From morn till night they're stricken down ; 

Without regard they perish utterly. 

Their cord of life, is it not torn away ? 

They die— still lacking wisdom. 

See the notes on this rhythmical version, in which Lewis defends the accuracy of 
his translation, in Lange's Commentary on Job, pp. 59, 60. See also Lewis' articles 
on The Emotional Element in Hebrew Translation, in the Methodist Quarterly Review, 
for Jan., 1802, Jan. and July, ISOU, and Jan., 1864. 


While the spirit and emotionality of Hebrew poetry are aue to 
a combination of various elements, the parallelism of „, , , , 

' ^ structural form 

sentences is a most marked feature of its outward form, of Hebrew par- 
This it becomes us now to exhibit more fully, for a '^^'*^'i®"^- 
scientific interpretation of the poetical portions of the Old Testa- 
ment requires that the parallelism be not ignored. Joseph Addison 
Alexander, indeed, animadverts upon Bishop Lowth's "supposed 
discovery of rhythm or measure in the Hebrew prophets," and con- 
demns his theory as unsound and in bad taste.' But his strictures 
seem to proceed on the assumption that the theory of parallelism 
involves the idea of metrical versification analogous to the prosody 
of other languages. Aside from such an assumption they have no 
relevancy or force. For it is indisputable that the large portions 
of the Hebrew scriptures, commonly regarded as jDoetical, are as 
capable of arrangement in well-defined parallelisms as the variety 
of Greek metres are capable of being reduced to system and rules. 
The short and vivid sentences which we have seen to be peculiar 
to HebrcAv speech, would lead, by a very natural proc- The process of 
ess, to the formation of parallelisms in poetry. The f°"°i°s Pf f^i- 

'. _ -I . . lelisms natural 

desire to present a subject most impressively would in Hebrew. 
lead to repetition, and the tautology would show itself in slightly 
varying forms of one and the same thought. Thus the following, 
from Prov. i, 24-27: 

Because I have called, and ye refuse; 

I have stretched out my hand, and no one attending; 

And ye refuse all my counsel, 

And my correction ye have not desired ; 

Also I in your calamity will laugh ; 

I will mock at the coming of your terror; 

At the coming — as a roaring tempest — of your terror; 

And your calamity as a sweeping whirlwind shall come on; 

At the coming upon you of distress and anguish. 

Other thoughts would be more forcibly expressed by letting tnem 
in contrast with something of an opposite nature. Hence such 
parallelisms as the following: 

They have kneeled down and fallen; 

But we have arisen and straightened ourselves up. Psa. xx, 9. 

The memory of the righteous (is) for a blessing, 

But the name of tlie \vicked shall be rotten. 

The wise of heart will take commands, 

But a prating fool shall be thrown down. Prov. x, 7, 8. 

* See the Introduction to his Commentary on The Earlier Prophecies of Isaiah, pp. 
48, 49. New York, 1846. 


Such simple disticlis would readily develop into more complex ex- 
amples of j^arallelism, and ^ve find among the Hebrew poems a great 
variety of forms in which the sacred writers sought to set foith 
their burning thoughts. The more common and regular forms of 
Hebrew parallelism are classified by Lowth under three general 
heads, Avhich he denommates Synonymous, Antithetic, and Syn- 
thetic. These, again, may be subdivided, according as the lines 
form simple couplets or triplets, or have measured correspondence 
in sentiment and length, or are unequal, and broken by sudden bursts 
of passion, or by some impressive refrain. 

1. Synonymous Pakallelism. 
Plere we place passages in which the different lines or members 
present the same thought in a slightly altered manner of expres- 
sion. To this class belong the couplets of Prov. i, 24-27 cited 
above, where it will be seen there is a constant repetition of thought 
under a variety of words. Three kinds of synonymous parallels 
may be specified: 

a) Identical, when the different members are comiDOsed of the 
same, or nearly the same, words: 

Thou wert snared in the sayings of thy mouth ; 

Thou wert taken in tlie sayings of tliy mouth. Prov. vi, 2. 

They lifted up, the floods, O Jehovah; 

They lifted up, the floods, their voice; 

They lift up, the floods, their dashing. Psa. xciii, 3. 

It shall devour the parts of his skin, 

It shall devour his parts, the first-born of death. Job xviii, 13. 

For in a night is spoiled Ar, Moab, cut off. 

For in a night is spoiled Kir, Moab, cut off. Isa. xv, 1 

b) Similar, when the sentiment is substantially the same, but 
language and figures are different: 

For he on seas has founded it. 
And on floods will he establish it. Psa. xxiv, 2. 
Brays the wild ass over the tender grass ? 
Or lows the ox over his provender? Job vi, 5. 

c) Inverted, when there is an inversion or transposition of words 
or sentences so as to change the order of thought: 

The heavens are telling the glory of God, 

And the work of his hands declares the expanse. Psa. xix, 2. 

They did not keep the covenant of God, 

And in his law they refused to walk. Psa. Ixxviii, 10. 


For unto me is he lovingly joined, and I will deliver him; 
I will exalt liim, for he has known my name. Psa. xci, 14. 

Strengthen ye the weak hands, 

And the feeble knees confirm. Isa. xxxv, 3. 

2. Antithetic PARAiiLELisM. 

Under this head come all passages in which there is a contrast or 
opposition of thought presented in the diflferent sentences. This 
kind of parallelism abounds in the Book of Proverbs especially, 
for it is peculiarly adapted to express maxims of proverbial wis- 
dom. There are two forms of antithetic parallelism: 

«) Simple, w4)en the contrast is presented in a single distich of 
simple sentences: 

Righteousness will exalt a nation. 

But the disgrace of peoples is sin. Prov. xiv, 84. 

The tongue of wise men makes knowledge good, 
But the mouth of fools pours out folly.. Prov.. xv, 3. 

For a moment in his anger: 

Lifetimes in liis favf)ur. 

In the evening abideth weeping; 

And at morning, a shout of joy. PSa. xxx, 5. (6.) 

b) Compound, when there are two or more sentences in each 
member of the antithesis: 

The ox has known his owner. 

And the ass the crib of his lord; 

Israel has not known, — 

My people have not shown themselves discerning. Isa. i, 3. 

If ye be willing, and have heard, 

The good of the land shall ye eat; 

But if ye refuse, and have rebelled, 

A sword shall eat — 

For the mouth of Jehovah has spoken. Isa. i, 19, 20. 

In a little moment I forsook thee, 

But in great mercies I will gatlier tliee. 

In the raging of wrath I hid my face a moment from thee ; 

But with everlasting kindness have I had mercy on thee. 

Isa. liv, 7, 8. 

3. Synthetic Parallelism. 

Synthetic or Constructive Parallelism consists, according to 
Lowth's definition, "only in the similar form of construction, in 
which word does not answer to word, and sentence to sentence, as 
equivalent or opposite; but there is a correspondence and equality 


between different propositions in respect to the shape and turn of 
the whole sentence and of the constructive parts; such as noun 
answering to noun, verb to verb, member to member, negative to 
negative, interrogative to interrogative." ' Two kinds of synthetic 
parallels may bo noticed: 

a) Correspondent, when there is a designed and formal corre- 
spondency between related sentences, as in the following example 
from Psa. xxvii, 1, where the first line corresponds with the third, 
and the second with the fourth : 

Jehovah, my light and my salvation, 

Of whom shall I be afraid? 
Jehovah, fortress of my life, 

Of whom shall I stand in terror? 

This same style of correspondence is noticeable in the following 
compound antithetic parallelism: 

They sliall he asliamed and blush together, 

Wlio are rejoicing in my harm; 
They sliall be clothed with shame and disgrace, 

Who magnify themselves over me. 
They shall shout and rejoice, 

Who delight in my righteousness, 
And they shall say continually — be magnified, Jehovah, 

Who delight in the peace of his servant. Psa. xxxv, 26, 27. 

h) Cumulative, Avhen there is a climax of sentiment running 
through the successive parallels, or when there is a constant varia- 
tion of words and thought by means of the simple accumulation 
of images or ideas : 

Happy the man wlio has not walked in the counsel of wicked ones, 
And in the way of sinners has not stood, 
And in the seat of scorners has not sat down; 

But in the law of Jehovah is liis deliglit; 

And in his law will he meditate day and night. Psa. i, 1, 2. 

Seek ye Jehovali while lie may he found, 

Call upon iiini while he is near by; 

Let the wicked forsake his way. 

And the man of iniquity his thoughts; 
And let him return to Jehovah, and he will have mercy on hira, 
And to our tiod, for he will be abundant to pardon. Isa. Iv, 6, 7. 

For the fig-tree shall not blossom, 
And no produce in the vines ; 
Deceived has the work of the olive, 
And llulds have not wrought food; 

' Lowth's Isalali, rreliniiiiary Dissertation, p. 21. Lontlon, 1779. 


Cut off from the fold was the flock, 
And no cattle in the stalls ; 

But I — In Jehovah will I exult ; 
I will rejoice in the God of my salvation. Hah. iii, 17. 

But aside from these more regular forms of parallelisin, there are 
numerous peculiarities in Hebrew poetry which are not in-eguiar struc- 
to be classified under any rules or theories of prosody, sioned^poeucai 
The rapt flights of the ancient bards ignored such utterances. 
trammels, and, by abrupt turns of thought, broken and unequal 
lines, and sudden ejaculations of prayer or emotion, they produced 
a great variety of expressive forms of sentiment. Take, for illus- 
tration, the two following extracts from Jacob's dying psalm — the 
blessings of Judah and Joseph — and note the variety of expression, 
the sharp transitions, the profound emotion, and the boldness and 
abundance of metaphor: 

Judah, tliou! Thy brothers shall praise thee; 

Thy hand in the neck of tliy foes! 

They shall bow down to thee, the sons of tliy father. 

Whelp of a lion is Judah. 
From the i^rey, O my son, thou hast gone up! 

He bent low ; 

He lay down as a lion, 

And as a lioness ; 

Who will rouse him up? 
There shall not dejjart a sceptre from Judah, 
And a ruler from between his feet, 
Until he shall come — Shiloli — 
And to him shall be gathered peoples. 
Fastening to the vine his foal, 
And to tiie choice vine the son of his ass, 
He has washed in the wine his garment, 
And in the blood of grapes his clothes. 
Dark the eyes from wine, 
And white the teeth from milk. Gen. xlix, 8-13, 

Son (if a fruit tree is Joseph, 
Son of a fruit tree over a fountain; 
Daughters climbing over a wall. 

And they imbittered him, 

And they shot, 

And they hated him, — ■ 

The lords of the bow. 
Yet remained in strength his bow, 
And firm were tlie arms of his hands, 
From the hands of the Mighty One of Jacob ; 
From the name of the Shepherd, the Stone of Israel; 


From the God of thy father, and he will help thee; 
And the Almighty, and he will bless thee; 
Blessings of the heavens above, 
Blessings of the deep lying down l)elow, 
• Blessings of breasts and womb. 

The blessings of thy father have been mighty. 
Above the blessings of the enduring mountains, 
The desire of the everlasting hills. 
Let them be to the head of Joseph 
And to the crown of the devoted of his brothers. Gen. xlix, 23-36. 

In the later period of the language Ave find a number of artificial 
Alphabetical poems, in which the several lines or verses begin with 
poems. the letters of the Hebrew al}>iiabet in their regular 

order. Thus, in Psalms cxi and cxii, the lines or half verses are 
arranged alphabetically. In Psalms xxv, xxxiv, cxlv, Prov. xxxi, 
10-31, and Lam. i and ii, each separate verse begins with a new 
letter in regular order. In Psa. xxxvii, Avith some slight exceptions, 
every alternate verse begins with a new letter. In Psa. cxix and 
Lam. iii, a series of verses, each beginning with the same letter, is 
grouped into strophes or stanzas, and the strophes follow one an- 
other in alphabetical order. Such artificiality evinces a later period 
in the life of the language, when the poetical spirit, becoming less 
creative and more mechanical, contrives a new feature of external 
form to arrest attention and assist the memory. 

We find also in the Old Testament several noticeable instances 

„ ^ ^ of rhyme. The following, in Samson's answer to 

Hebrew rhymes. , "^ p m- 

the men of Timnath (Judges xiv, 18), was probably 



• T • V T : 

If ye had not plowed -with my heifer, 
Ye had not found out my riddle. 

The following are perhaps only accidental : 

^2'^t'l nmp D''\yi &&-\_n -a^JD 
iT-ip"- -lac'K H2D^ ay^ ^2br:> 

• ': - I : V T : t ; •• ; - 

Kings of Tarshish and of isles a gift shall return, 

Kings of Shel)a and Seba a present shall bring. Psa. Ixxii, 10. 

• T : ■ 

• T T -; - 

As Sodom had we been, 

To Gomonnh had we been like. Isa. i, 9. 


^35VJ< 'rnay n^bv) 

In a nation profane will I send him, 

And upon a peojDle of my wrath will I command him. Isa. x, 6.' 

But aside from all artificial forms, the Hebrew language, in its 

words, idiomatic phrases, vivid concepts, and pictorial „. .^ 

' ^ .,..', Vividness of 

power, has a remarkable smiplicity and beauty. To Hebrew words 

the emotional Hebrew every thing was full of life, and ^•^•^ P^'^'^ses. 
the manner of the most ordinary action attracted his attention. 
Sentences full of pathos, sublime exclamations, and profound sug- 
gestions often found expression in his common talk. How often 
the word behold {''ip_r\) occurs in simple narrative! How the very 
process and order of action are pictured in the following passages : 
" Jacob lifted up his feet, and went to the land of the sons of the 
east" (Gen. xxix, 1). "He lifted up his voice, and wept. . . . 
Laban heard the hearing about Jacob, the son of his brother, 
and he ran to meet him, and embraced him, and kissed him, and 
brought him to his house" (verses 11, 13). "Jacob lifted up his 
eyes, and looked, and, behold! Esau was coming" (Gen. xxxiii, l). 
How intensely vivid the picture of Sisera's death, wrought by the 
hand of Jael: 

Her liaiid to tlie tent-pin she sent forth, 

And her riglit hand to tlie hammer of the workmen; 

And she hammered Sisera. she crushed his head; 

And she smote through and transfixed his temples. 

Between her feet he sunk down; he fell; he lay; 

Between her feet he sunk down, he fell ; 

Wliere he sunk down, there lie fell slain. Judges v, 36, 27. 

There are, again, many passages where a notable ellipsis enhances 
the impression: "And now, lest he send forth his hand, 
and take also from the tree of life, and eat, and live 
forever — and sent him forth Jehovah God from the garden of 
Eden " (Gen. iii, 22). " And now, if thou wilt forgive their sin — 
and if not, wipe me, I pray, from thy book which thou hast writ- 
ten." "Return, O Jehovah— how long!" (Psa. xc, 13.) The at- 
tempt of our translators to supply the ellipsis in Psa. xix, 3, 4, per- 
verts the real meaning: " There is no speech nor language ivhere 
their voice is not heard." The simple Hebrew is much more im- 

' Comp. also Isa. i, 25, where three rhymes appear in one verse; and Isa. i, 2H ; 
xliv, 3; xlix, 10; liii, 6; Job vi, 9; Psa. xlv, 8; Trov. vi, 1. 


No saying, and no words; — 

Not heard — their voice ; 

In all the land -svent forth their line, 

And in the end of the world their utterances. 

That is, the heavens have no audible language or voice such as mor- 
tal man is wont to speak; nevertheless, they have been stretched 
as a measuring line over all the surface of the earth, and, though 
voiceless, they have sermons for thoughtful souls in every part of 
the habitable world. 

Such elliptical modes of expression would be very natural in a 

^ languao-e which has no vowels in its alphabet. A writ- 
Hebrew speech & » -i 

naturally eiiip- ten document, containing only consonants, and capable 
^"^'^^" of a variety of meanings according as it was pro- 

nounced or understood, must necessarily leave much to the imagi- 
nation of the reader. The simple but emotional speaker will often 
convey his meaning as much by signs, gpstures, and peculiai* into- 
nations of voice, as by his words; and this very habit of leaving 
much for the common sense and imagination of the reader to sup- 
ply seems to have impressed itself upon the written language of 
the sensitive Hebrew. He took it for granted that his hearers 
and readers would understand much that he did not literally 
say. In this, however, he was at times mistaken. Like Moses, 
when he smote the Egyptian, " he supposed that his bretliren would 
understand that God by his hand would give deliverance to them; 
but they did not understand" (Acts vii, 25). So sacred Avriters of 
the Old Testament, as well as of the New, left on record things 
difficult to understand (SvavorjTa, 2 Peter iii, 16), and hence the 
variety of meanings attached to certain parts of Scripture. 

In direct addresses almost every object of nature, and even ab- 
Eniofionaiityof stract ideas, are appealed to as if instinct with living 
direct address, consciousness: "Spring u]i, O well; sing ye to her" 
(Num. xxi, 11). "Sing, O heavens; and rejoice, O land; break 
forth the mountains into song!" (Isa. xlix, 13). "Awake, awake, 
put on strength, O arm of Jehovah ! as the days of old, the gen- 
erations of eternities" (Isa. li, 9). "Awake, awake, put on thy 
strength, O Zion, put on the garments of thy beauty, O Jerusalem, 
city of holiness!" (Isa. Hi, 1). "Open, O Lebanon, thy doors, and 
fire shall eat into thy cedars! Howl, O cypress, for the cedar has 
fallen, which mighty ones did spoil ! Howl, oaks of Bashan, for 
down has gone the inaccessible forest!" (Zech. xi, 1,2). "O sword, 
awake against my friend ; and against the man of my companion- 
ship ! " (Zech. xiii, 1). 


We should also note the anthropomorphisms and anthropopa- 
thisms of the Old Testament. They are hut the vivid ^^^ Testament 
concepts which impressed the emotional Hebrew mind, antiiropomor- 
and are in perfect keeping with the spirit of the language, p^^™' 
What an affecting conception of the personal God in Gen. vi, 5, 6: 
"And Jehovah saw that great was the wickedness of men in the 
land, and every imagination of the thoughts of his heart — only evil 
all the day. And it repented Jehovah that he made men in the 
land, and it pained him to his heart." Also in the following: " And 
there Avas the bow in the cloud, and I looked at it to remember the 
covenant eternal between God and every living soul in all flesh, 
which is iipon the land" (Gen. ix, 16). "Jehovah went down to 
see the city and the tower, which the sons of men were building" 
(Gen. xi, 5). Moses' song (Exod. xv) extols Jehovah as " a man of 
war " (verse 3). He calls the strong east wind (xiv, 2 J), by which 
the Avaters of the Red Sea were heaped up, " the wind of thy nose " 
(verse 8), using thus the metaj)hor of an enraged animal breathing 
fury from his distended nostrils. In Hezekiah's prayer (2 Kings 
xix, 16) we have this form of petition: "Stretch out, O Jehovah, 
thy eai*, and hear; open, O Jehovah, thy eyes, and see." David 
says (1 Chron. xvii, 25): "For thou, O my God, didst uncover the 
ear of thy servant — to build for him a house; therefore found thy 
servant to pray to thy face." Observe the suggestive force of 
the words here used. David receives the revelation of God from 
the prophet Nathan as a confidential communication; as if a bosom 
friend had stolen up to him, removed the locks of hair that covered 
his ear, and whispered there a secret word of wondrous promise 
which, at that time, no one else might hear. Then it seemed to 
the enx-aptured king that because God had thus found him, and 2m- 
covei'ed Ms ear, therefore he had come to find how to pray to God's 

We have already seen how many influences combine, in the his- 
tory of a language, to modify and change its forms and inti'o- 
duce new dialects, which may again be developed into new lan- 

' " Why talk of anthropopathism," says Tayler Lewis, " as if there were some spe- 
cial absurdity covered by this sounding term, when any revelation conceivable must 
be anthropopathic? If made subjectively — as some claim it should be made, if made 
at all — that is, to all men directly, through thouglits and feelings inwardly excited in 
each human soul without any use of language, still it must be anthropopathic. There 
is no escape from it. Whatever comes in this way to man must take the measure of 
man. . . . The thoughts and feelings thus aroused would still be human, and par- 
take of the human finity and imperfection. In their highest state they will be but 
shadows of the infinite, figures of ineffable truths." — The Divine Human in the Scrip- 
tures, p. 43. 


guages.' But a most remarkable fact of the Hebrew language is 
Remarkable that, for more than a thousand years, it suffered no ma- 
the "'^Hebrew Serial change. The Hebrew of the latest books of the 
language. Old Testament is essentially the same as that of the old- 

est documents. Traces of change and decay may, indeed, be dis- 
covered in the books of Ezekiel, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah; 
but they consist mainly of a few peculiar modes of expression, 
and the introduction of various words of a foreign cast. Contact 
with other nations would naturally introduce some new forms of 
speech. Especially did Aramaic words and forms work their way 
into the IlebrcAV books. But this infusion of new words wrousrht 
no essential changes in the structure of the language, and many 
forms which are commonly called Chaldaisms are found in the old- 
est books. The fact is, the Hebrew and Aramaic tongues abode 
side by side for ages. The monumental stone heap which Jacob 
and Laban set up in Mount Gilead, Jacob called Galeed; but Laban, 
the Syrian, called it Jegnr-sahadutha — an Aramaic name of the 
same meaning as Galeed (Gen. xxxi, 47). More frequent inter- 
course with Syrians and Chaldseans in later times would naturally 
leave its traces in corresponding fulness on the language of the 

Three periods may be distinguished in the Old Testament litera- 
Three periods ^^^^^' ^^^ ^^^^ appropriately be called, respectively, the 
of Hebrew lit- earlier, the t)dddle, and the later. The first extended from 
the time of Moses to that of Samuel, the second from 
David to Hezekiah, and the third from the latter years of the 
kingdom of Judah until a few generations after the return from 
the Babylonian exile.^ But granting all the evidences of decline 
and change that can be fairly established, it still remains indisput- 
able that the Hebrew language continued remarkably uniform, and 
in essentially the same stage of development, from the age of Moses 

' Compare above, pp. 72, 73. 

' Gcscnius declares for two periods, the first extendiiic; from the time of Moses to 
the Babylonian exile ; the second from the exile to the time of the Maccabees. These 
periods he calls the golden and the silver age. See his (Jeshichte der heliraischen 
Sprache und Schrift. Lpz., 1815. BiJttcher follows Gesenius in deciding for two 
periods— the period of rise and bloom (B.C. ] 500-000), and the jjcrlod of decline and 
fall (B.C. 60()-lc>5). Each of these periods he subdivided into three epochs. See his 
Ausfuhrliches Lehrbuch der hebraischen Sprache, Einleitung, pp. 21, 22. Renan dis- 
tinguishes three periods, the archaic, the classic, and the Chaldaic. See his Histoirc 
generale des Langues Semitiques, p. 116. Paris, 1863. Com[). Ewald, Ausfiihrliches 
Lehrbuch, p. 23, and Keil's, Bleek's and De Wette's Introductions to the Old Testa- 
ment. See also the articles on the Hebrew Language in Hertzog, Real-encyclopadie, 
the Encyclopaedia Britannica, and the various biblical dictionaries. 


to tliat of Malaclii, It never changed so much as even to aj^proach 
what might be called another dialect. In spite of migrations, con- 
quest, invasions, revolutions, secession, and exile, the Hebrew lan- 
guage, in which the five books of the Torah were cast, retained its 
sacred mould. Chaldaisms are found in Genesis, and archaisms in 
Zechariah and Malachi. 

Happily, there is little room for dispute as to the approximate 
dates of most of the books of the Old Testament. A larsfe amount 
of controversy has turned upon the books of Job and Ecclesiastes, 
and it is a singular fact that, while some have strenuously con- 
tended that Job belongs to the Solomonic period, and Ecclesiastes 
to a post-exilian date, other critics, equally competent and acute, 
maintain the Solomonic authorship of Ecclesiastes, and attribute 
the book of Job to Moses. This fact shows how uncertain and mis- 
leading are the attemj^ts to ascertain the age of a Hebrew writer 
solely from his language. Many words and forms. Difference of 
which are often alleged as Aramaisms, may be attrib- diction no con- 

. ^ 1 ,, TT. . . trolling evi- 

uted, rather, to the style and diction oi an author, dence of date 
Isaiah, Hosea, Amos, Micah, and Nahum, though nearly °^ authorship, 
contemporary, vary greatly in their style, and each of them uses 
words and forms of expression not elsewhere found ; and yet they 
all wrote in the same general prophetic strain. How many more 
and how much greater differences, then, are reasonably to be ex- 
pected between them and writers of another period, whose subject- 
matter is widely different ! The same author may use a very differ- 
ent diction in two different works, treating on different themes, 
and written twenty years apart. If Moses wrote the book of Job 
■ — especially if he wrote it during the forty years of his shepherd 
life in Arabia — we certainly would not expect such a highly wrought 
poem to resemble the historical book of Genesis, even though we 
assume that Genesis and Job were written by him about the same 
time. If Solomon composed the book of Ecclesiastes in his old 
age, there is no sufficient reason to assume that his style and lan- 
guage in that work must closely resemble the Proverbs and Canti- 
cles written nearly forty years previously. 

Such, then, are the principal features of that language in which 
the ancient oracles of God were embodied, and in jjgbrew a lan- 
which they are preserved to us unto this day. Its RuagopLcuiinr- 

, '' . n • n 1 ly adapted to 

letters are a picture gallery; its words, roots, and embody God's 
grammatical forms are intimately blended with pro- ancient word. 
foundest and divinest thoughts. It may well be called, emj'hat- 
ically, the sacred tongxie. It appears in full development in its 
earliest written monuments, as if it had been crystallized into 


imperishable form by tlie marvels of the exodus and the fires of 
Sinai. The divine calling of Israel, and their national separateness 
from all other peoples, served largely to preserve it from any con- 
siderable change. It retained every essential element of its 
structure until the canon of the Old Testament was complete, and 
then it ceased to be a living language. But, though dead, it does 
not cease to speak. It seems, rather, to have arisen, and to flourish 
in another and immortal life. When it ceased to be a spoken lan- 
guage, behold, it was already petrilied in records more enduring 
than the granite tables on which the ten commandments were 
written by the finger of God. As the ancient cities, buried under 
the ashes of Vesuvius, now speak from the tomb of ages, and re- 
veal the life and customs of the old Roman world, so the pictorial 
and emotional language of the Hebrew Scriptures transports us 
into the very heart and spirit of that olden time when God talked 
familiarly with men. Like the holy land, in which this language 
lived more than a thousaiul years, it abounds in imaejery 

Hebrew Ian- . .,,.■'.. ^. , 

gunge like ihe that IS apt to strike the imagination or aiiect the senses. 
Hebrews' land, j^ ^^^ -^^ some respects, a reflexion of Canaan itself. 
It has a strength and permanency like the mountains about Jeru- 
salem (Psa. cxxv, 2). It can whisper melodious tones for ode and 
psalm and elegy, soft and gentle as the voice of the turtle-dove 
(Cant, ii, 12), or the gliding Avaters of Shiloh (Isa. viii, 0). It 
can excite emotions of terror like the rushing floods of the an- 
cient Kishon, which swept whole armies away (Judges v, 21), or 
like the thunder and earthquake which opened the beds of the sea, 
and revealed the foundations of the world (2 Sam. xxii, 16). It 
has landscape paintings as beautiful as the wild flower of Sharon 
(Cant, ii, 1), charming as the splendour and excellency of Carmel, 
and awe-ins|)iring as the glory of Lebanon (Isa. xxxv, 2). Through 
it all there breathes a spirit of holiness as impressive and solemn as 
if proceeding fi'om the mysterious darkness in which Jehovah came 
down on Mount Sinai (Exod. xix, 18), or from the veiled Holy of 
Holies on the Mount Zion whicli lu' loved (Psa. Ixxviii, 68). Sure- 
ly this language was admirably adapted to enshrine the law and 
the testimony of God. It is like the wonderful bush which Moses 
saw at Iloreb; behold! it burns continually, but is not consumed. 
And when the devout student comes within the s])ell of its sjjirit 
and power, he may hear the sound of a voice, exclaiming: "Pull 
off thy sandals from thy feet, for the place whereon thou staudest 
is holy ground" (Exod. iii, 5). 




A SMALL portion of the Old Testament is written in what is com- 
monly called the biblical Chaldee.' In Dan. ii, 4, Ezra iv, 7, 
2 Kings xviii, 26, and Isa. xxxvi, 11, it is called Aramaic, nvp-jx, a 
word which is translated in the English Version, after the Septua- 
gint, Vulgate, and Luther, "the Syrian tongue." This language 
became early prevalent in all the region known as D'JX, Aram, the 
Syria of the Greeks and Romans, and in course of time branched 
out into two very similar dialects known as the East- 

- -v-,r * • rni t i -,. ~. Eastern and 

ern and Western Aramaic, ihese dialects differ chiefly western Ara- 
in vocalization, and each maintains an individuality of '"^^°' 
its own, but lexically and grammatically they are in all essential 
characteristics most intimately related to each other. The Western 
Aramaic is now commonly called Syriac; the Eastern, Chaldee. 
This latter name has not usually been satisfactory to the learned, 
some preferring the name Babylonian, others Babylonian-Semitic. 
But the name of Chaldee language, as applied to the Eastern Ara- 
maic, has acquired too great currency to be now set Chaideeaprop- 
aside. It is universally admitted that this lano-uaofe ^l "?™°, f^'' 

•' . ^ ^ tlie biblical Ar- 

was in common use among the Babylonians at the time amaic. 
of the Jewish exile, and the Babylonians are almost always called 
Chaldeans (Hebrew, D^'nb'l, Chasdim) in the Bible.' Mention is 
made in Dan. i, 4, of " the tongue of the Chaldeans," and there 
appears no sufiicient reason to believe that this was any other than 
the common language of Chaldea at the time.^ It was sufficiently 
different from the Jews' language (comp. 2 Kings xviii, 26) to 

' The Chaldee portions are Jer. x, 11, Dan. ii, 4-vii, 28, and Ezra iv, 8-vi, 18, and 
vii, 12-26. 

' Compare especially 2 Kings xxiv, 2 ; xxv, 4, 5, 10, 13, etc. ; Isa. xiii, 19 ; xliii, 14; 
xlvii, 1 ; Jer. xxi, 4, 9 ; xxxii, 4, 5, 24, etc. ; xxxvii, 5, 8, 9 ; 1, 1, 8, 10, 13, etc. ; Ezek. 
i, 3, 12, 13; Hab. i, 6. 

' Most recent critics (see especially Stnart, Keil, and Zockler, in loco) hold that the 
D^'nb'3 \^th-, tongue of the Chasdim (Dan. i, 4) was the learned language of the 
priests and wise men, and the court language of the empire, as distinguished from the 
Aramaic, the language of the common people. They urge that in Dan. ii, 2, 4, 5, 10 ; 
iv, 7; V, V, 11, the Chasdim are a special and predominant class among the wise men 
of Babylon, and represent an ancient tribe or people of non-Semitic speecli. But it 
is also a fact that Daniel applies the word Chasdim to the inhabitants of Bal)y Ionia 


make it an object to instruct the young men who were to be trained 
for the royal service in its written and spoken (pi^v'' "i.??? Dan. i, 4) 
forms. During the seventy years of their exile the Jewish people 
largely lost the use of their ancestral language, and appropriated 
this Chaldean dialect. When they returned to rebuild their huly 
city and temple, they required to have the language of their 
sacred books explained to them (Neh. viii, 8). They never again 
recovered the use of the Hebrew as a vernacular, but continued 
to use the Chaldean dialect until Jerusalem was taken by the 

When Abram migrated from Ur of the Chaldeans, the differ- 
ences between the Semitic tongues were doubtless fewer and less 
noticeable than in the days of Ezra or of Daniel.' After the time 

. , of David, when intercourse between the Israelites and 
Hebrew inter- ' 

course with Ar- the Syrians of Damascus became more frequent, Ara- 
amaic. maisms would naturally work their way into the Hebrew 

lanofuaere of Palestine. The Chaldee verse in Jer. x, 11 is be- 
lieved by many to be a gloss, interpolated in the time of the exile, 
or very soon afterward,^ but the language and style of Jeremiah 
show many evidences of Aramaic influence. At the time of his 
prophesying the Chaldeans were overrunning Palestine (Jer. xxxiv), 
and he survived the destruction of Jerusalem, and was carried 
down into Egypt (Jer. xxxix, xl). The language of Ezekiel's 
projihecies evinces the growing power of Araraean sjjeech over 
the Hebrew mind, and "the manifold anomalies and corruptions in 
his writings betray the decline and approaching ruin of the Hebrew 
language, and remind us that the prophet's home is in a foreign 

(Dan. V, 30 ; ix, 1), and in all the other books of the Old Testament this is its common 
meaninf^. It is further urged that the use of the word Aramaic (n^D"lN) hi Dan. 
ii, 4, implies that these learned Chasdim addressed the king in the common language 
of the empire, and not the learned tongue of the i)riesthood and the court. This, 
however, is by no means clear. Why may not "the tongue of the Chaldecs" be also 
called Aramaic V This was the conuuon name used by Ilclirew writers for the lan- 
guage of Chaldea, and it was every way natural for the author of Dan. ii, 4, to use 
the word fl'DIX, as Ezra does (in Ezra iv, 7), although he had already spoken of the 

same language (in i. 4) as the Chaldee tongue. If, as these critics say, the tongue of 
the Chasdim was the court language of Nebuchadnezzar and his dynasty, this tongue, 
by all means, should have been used before the king. No satisfactory reason is given 
for their using any other. See Bleek, Introduction to the Old Testament, vol. i, pp. 
47, 48. English Translation by Venable-s, Lond., 1875. 

' Compare page 77, above. 

* So Ho\ibigant, Venenia, Dathe, Blayney, Doederlein, llosenmiiller, Maurer, Ewald, 
Graf, Henderson, and Xaegelsbach. 

' Keil, Introduction to Old Testament, vol. i, p. 356. 


Daniel, who received an early and thorough training in the 

tongue of the Chaldeans, is the first biblical writer who 

r 11 1 1 • T 1 • -1 . . T^^ Chaldee 

lonnally employs this dialect m sacred composition, passages of 

After having narrated in Hebrew the successful train- ^''°'®^- 
ing of himself and his three companions, he passes, in the second 
chapter, to an account of Nebuchadnezzar's dream, and from verse 
4, where the Chaldeans begin their address to the king: "O king, 
forever live! " the language changes to Aramaic. This being the 
very language in which all the conversation of the court was car- 
ried on, its use here gives to Daniel's narrative a life-like reality, 
and is a monumental evidence of the genuineness and authenticity 
of the record. Only a writer of Daniel's time and position, and 
bilinguous as he, would have written thus. Nebuchadnezzar's 
dream was a God-given vision of world-empire, and of its final 
overthrow by the power and kingdom of God; and the dream and 
its interpretation were written down in a language then common 
alike to the people of God and to the mightiest empire of the 
world. The succeeding narratives of the golden image and the de- 
liverance of Daniel's three companions from the burning furnace 
(chap, iii), Nebuchadnezzar's proclamation (chap, iv), Belshazzar's 
feast and sudden overthrow (chap, v), and Daniel's deliverance 
from the lion's den (chap, vi), were also recorded in the language 
of the empire, for they were written for the world to know. 
Finally, Daniel's great vision of world-empire and its overthrow 
(chap, vii), is also recorded in Chaldee, for it was only a repetition 
under other symbols and in fuller form of the prophecy embodied 
in Nebuchadnezzar's dream (chap. ii). This prophecy was for the 
whole world rather than for any special purpose of fhe Jewish peo- 
ple; but when, in the eighth chapter, the prophet passes to visions 
of more special import for his own people, he resumes the Hebrew. 
The other writer of biblical Chaldee is Ezra, the learned priest 
and scribe, who flourished about a century after Daniel. TheChaWeeof 
He went up from Babylon to Jerusalem, in company Ezra. 
with a large number of the exiles, during the reign of the Persian 
king Artaxerxes Longimanus (B. C. 457). Familiar from youth 
with the Chaldee dialect of Babylon, he also by diligent study 
made himself familiar with the sacred literature of his nation, that 
he might be able to instruct the peojDle of his age in the law of 
Jehovah (Ezra vii, I-IO). The great mass of these returning exiles 
had lost the use of their ancestral language,' and now spoke the 

' It is not to be supposed, however, that all the exiles lost the use of Hebrew. 
Many of the better classes preserved it, and the use of it in the books of Ezra, Xel:e- 
miah, Haggai, Zeehariah, and Malachi implies that it was yet familiar to many. 


common language of the Chaldeans among whom they had sojourned 
more than seventy years. In connexion with other Levites and 
with ISTehemiah, Ezra Avas wont to assemble the people, and read 
and explain to them the hook of the law of Moses (Neh. viii, 1-8). 
The ao-reement of ancient traditions in associating Ezra with the 
Great Svnao-oo-ue, and the formation of the Old Testament Canon, 
may authorize us to believe that, in connexion with Nehemiah and 
other leading Jews of his time, he did collect and arrange the books 
of the Jewish Canon in substantially the form in which we now 
possess them. He lived at a time when such a work could best be 
done, and he had facilities for it Avhich no later age possessed. 
Ezra was unquestionably one of the greatest men of Israel, and 
his mighty influence over the people is attested by the numerous 
traditions which still linger about his name. 

Such being the historical position and character of this writer, we 
can readily understand the bilingual character of the book which 
bears his name. When, at chapter iv, 8, he has occasion to insert 
the letter of the Samaritans to zVrtaxerxes (Smerdis), which is em- 
phatically said to have been written and translated into Aramaic, 
he naturally gives it in the language in which he found it written — 
a language perfectly familiar to himself and his people. For the 
same reason he continues his narrative in the Aramaic language as 
far as chap, vi, 18; for this part of his book is principally devoted 
to foreign and international affairs, and contains copies of letters to 
and from Artaxerxes and Darius.' So, also, the copy of Artaxerxes' 
letter and decree, in chap, vii, 12-26, is inserted without note or 
comment in this Aramaic language. Such a peculiar use of two 
languages, or dialects, was perfectly in keeping with the age and 
circumstances of Ezra, who was equally familiar with both tongues; 
but it could scarcely be explicable in a writer of any other age or 
nation. Ezra had no sufficient reason to translate these Aramaic 
documents, which he found ready for his use. Rather, we may 
say, he was divinely inspired and overruled to preserve them in 
just the form in which he found them. Tlieir subject-matter, like 
the Aramaic portions of Daniel, had special lessons for the Gentile 
world, and it was Avell for them to be published and made immor- 
tal in the language of that nation with whose name the exile of the 
Hebrews was to be forever associated. 

1 It is prol)iihle that the whole Chaldoe section, from chap, iv, 8 to vi, 18, is an older 
document, written by a contemporary of Zerubhabel, fur in chap, v, 4, the writer uses 
the first person, as if he were a participant in the matters described. Ezra appropri- 
ated this document, containing; an authentic history of the troubles attending the re- 
building of the temple, just as he did the document of names and numljcrs in chap. ii. 


Tliis Chaldean language, being, like the Hebrew, only a dia- 
lectical outgrowth of the original Semitic speech, is, in its genius, 
idioms, and general structure, substantially the same as Hebrew, 
Among its chief peculiarities are (1) the use of nouns 

• ^1 1 ^- r^ ^ mi • T . , •, Grammatical 

m the emphatic state, i his usage does away with the pecuiiai ities of 
article, so that where the Hebrew would have t]!p?3ri, ^^^ chaidee. 
hmnmelek, the king, the Chaidee has N3^p, tnalka. (2) The termi- 
nation of the masculine j^lural of nouns in p — where the Hebrew 
has D''— (3) The use of the relative H (shortened prefix 'n) in the 
various senses in which the Hebrew employs "IK'N, and also as a 
sign of the genitive case. (4) A pleonastic use of the suffix pro- 
nouns; as "unto Mm, unto Artaxerxes, the king (Ezra iv, 11); "the 
name of Mm, of God" (Dan. ii, 20). (5) There are three ordinary 
conjugations of the verb, the Peal, Pael, and Aphel, corresponding 
substantially with the Kal, Piel, and Hiphil in Hebrew,' and each 
of these has a passive or reflexive mode, formed by prefixing the 
syllable nx, thus : 

Simple. Intensive. Causative. 

Peal, ^pp Pael, ^Jts,? Aphel, bi:^i^^ 

Ithpeal, ^tpi^riX Ithpaal, b'apm Ittaphal, bl^\?m 

In Chaidee, as in Hebrew, there are also several rare and peculiar 
conjugations, and the biblical Chaidee makes use of the conjuga- 
tions Hiphil and Hophal, and in other instances uses n instead of ^?. 
We also find in Chaidee imperatives in the passive form, and a dis- 
tinct masculine and feminine termination (^ — and H—) for the third 
person plural of the past tense. The participle is also used for the 
finite verb, and is construed with nouns and pronouns far more 
frequently than in Hebrew. In its lexical forms the Chaidee is 
specially noticeable in its use of the letters T instead of T, n and £3 
instead of lt\ and y instead of V. 

In the few Aramean chapters of our Bible we can scarcely expect 
to find a very full illustration of all the peculiarities of this lan- 
guage. In its general spirit and form we trace, however, a ten- 
dency to depart from the suggestive brevity of expression which 
we notice in the ancient Hebrew, and to leave less to the imagina- 
tion and understanding of the reader. There is less of animation 
and freshness of thought, and more of effort to set forth facts and 
ideas with fulness and precision. Nevertheless, we occasionally 
meet with passages of peculiar force and emotion. Notice the pe- 
culiar pleonastic structure and style of the following verse, which 
we translate literally from Dan. iii, 8 : " All because of this, in it, 
' Comp. the Hebrew paradigm above, page 81. 


tlie time, approached men, Chaldeans, and devoured the pieces of 
them, of tlie Jews." The expression, devoured tlieir pieces, is meta- 
phorical, denoting the rabid fury of the Chaldeans in accusing the 
Jews, as if, like ravenous beasts, they would tear them into bits, 
and devour them. In the twenty -fifth verse of the same chapter, 
mark the mingled excitement and awe of Nebuchadnezzar's words: 
"Ha! I see men, four, unbound, walking in the midst of the fire, 
and hurt there is not in them, and the aspect of him, of the fourth, 
is like to a son of the gods ! " Some passages naturally fall into 
parallelisms, as the following, from Nebuchadnezzar's proclamation 
(Dan. iv, 10-14): 

I w!is looking, and behold, a tree in the midst of the land, 

And tlie height of it was great; 

Greatly increased became the tree, and mighty, 

And the height of it was reaching to the heavens, 

And the sight of it to the end of all the land. 

Its foliage was beautiful, and its fruit abundant, 

And there was food in it for all. 

Under it the beast of the field found shade. 

And in its branches dwelt the birds of heaven, 

And from it all flesh was fed. 

I was looking, in the visions of my head, upon my bed, 

And behold, a watcher, even a holy one, 

And from the heavens he descended; 

He called aloud, and thus he spoke: 

Cut down the tree, and lop oil its branches, 

Remove its foliage, and scatter its fruit, 

Let the beast run away from under it, 

And the birds from its branches. 

The current language of such a world-empire as that of Babylon 
would naturally appropriate many foreign words. It 
orepnwor s. gj^^^^i^^ therefore, occasion no surprise to find Median, 
Persian, and Greek words in Chaldee writings belonging to the era 
of Nebu(^hadnezzar,' This Chaldean dialect, adopted by the Jews 
durino: their exile, was retained by them after their return to their 
fatherland. The pi-ophecies of Haggai, Zechariah, and Malachi, 
and the books of Ezra and Nehemiah were written in Hebrew, for 
they were to have a place among the sacred books," but the com- 

' See Rawlinson on the Persian words in Ezra, and also the Excursus on Persian 
words in Daniel, in the Speaker's Commentarj', vol. iii, p. 421 and vol. vi, p. 2<f>. 

' The lic'hrew did not altogether go out of use until long after tlie return from the 
Babylonian exile. It was used by such men as Haggai, Ezra, and other prophets, 
priests, and scribes of the law. Keil thinks the later prophets studied to imitate the 
style of the oldest Hebrew, and therefore used archaisms from the Pentateuch. 


mon language of the people was this Babylonian-Aramaic, Avhich 
maintained itself in Palestine during the periods of Persian, Greek, 
and Roman dominion. It is called Judaic (nnin^) in Neh. xiii, 24, 
and HchraistiCy or the Hebraic dialect, in the Apocrypha and in the 
New Testament.' The numerous Chaldee words used in the New 
Testament^ are also an evidence that it was the common language 
of Palestine in the time of our Lord.^ Its most considerable lit- 
erature is contained in the Targums, the oldest of which were prob- 
ably Avritten before the beginning of the Christian era.* 

It is not without historical significance that Ezra and Daniel 
wrote a portion of the Scriptures in this language of the Chal- 
dees. These chapters abide a monumental witness of Israel's con- 
tact with the mighty world-powers. Out of the land Historical and 
of the Chaldees Abram was called, and in him, it was apologetic vai- 

• T 1 11 r- •!• T • CI Till ue of the Chal- 

said that all tamihes and nations or the earth should dee parts of the 
be blessed. After fourteen centuries of religious cul- ^'^e. 
ture and revelation, his sons, by many thousands, were carried back 
into the same Chaldean land. Through Daniel in Babylon God 
made his wonders and power known to the mightiest nations of the 
world, and Israel's exile in Babylon, like Joseph's life in Egypt, served 
the double purpose of 2>i"eserving the chosen people from utter ruin 
by idolatry, into which they had been fast running in Canaan, and 
of showino- forth to the mightiest nation of the earth the wisdom 
and power of God. Daniel wrote in the tongue of the Chaldeans 
the fall of that mighty monarchy, which was symbolized by the 
golden head of the image (Dan. ii, 32, 38), and the great lion with 
eagle's wings (vii, 4). Ezra wrote in the same tongue the conflicts 
of the restored Israel with other heathen powers. Tliese chapters 
foreshadow a gradual transition to a new era, and led the way to 
the subsequent appropriation of the Greek language, in which the 
New Testament Scriptures appear. 

^'Ej3palar[ and rrj 'E,5pai(5i 6La}.EKTu. See Prologue to Ecclesiasticus and John 
V, 2; xix, 13, 17, 20; Acts xxi, 40; xxii, 2; xxvi, 14. 

'Such as Raca (Matt, v, 22), Golgotha (Matt, xxvii, 3"), TaUlha cumi (Mark v, 41), 
Corhan (Mark vii, 11), Ephphatha (Mark vii, 34), Rabboni (Mark x, 51), Abba (Mark 
xiv, 36), Gabbntha (John xix, 13), Aceldamn (Acts i, 19), Maran aiha (1 Cor. xvi, 22). 

' See the Essay of Prof. H. F. Pfannkuche, On the prevalence of the AraniBcan 
Language in Palestine in the Age of Christ and the Apostles ; translated from the 
German by E. Robinson, in the Biblical Repository, for April, 1831. 

■* For a convenient account of the character and age of the Targums, see Harm an, 
Introduction to the Study of the Holy Scriptures, pp. 52-55, and the Appendix to 
Hackctt's translation of Winer's Grammar of the Chaldee Language, Andover, 1845. 
See also the Biblical Cvclopiedias under the v.-ord Targums. . 




The Greek language belongs to the so-called Indo-European lamily. 
An indo-Eiiro- which extends from the eastern boundary of India to 
pean tougue. ^]^q western shores of Europe. Midway between these 
two extremes, on that iEgean shore " where every sight is beauty, 
and every breatli a balm," the nation of the Greeks arose and 
flourished. In ideals of government, in models of taste, in oratory, 
mathematics, architecture, sculpture, history, and philosophy, they 
have furnished the masterpieces of the world. In these several de- 
partments, Solon, Homer, Demosthenes, Euclid, Phidias, Thucyd- 
ides, and Plato, are representative and immortal names. 

It has long been observed that natural scenery has much to do 
witli the development of national life, and may give character to 
the civilization of a people. We have already called attention to 
the fact that Hebrew civilization and literature resemble the varied 
Languarre and sceuory of the Holy Land. So may avc also trace a 
civilization af- relationship between the land of the Greeks, and that 
rai scenery and exquisite literature and versatile life and talent exhib- 
chmate. -^^^^ j,^ their remaining monuments of science and art. 

" If we inquire into the causes of this singular excellence," says 
W. S. Tyler, " God laid the foundations for it when he laid the 
foundations of the earth; when he based the Avhole country, not, 
like England and America, upon coal and iron, but upon Pentelic, 
Hymettian, and Parian marble ; when he not only built the moun- 
tains round about Athens of the finest materials for sculpture 
and architecture, but fashioned their towering fronts and gently 
sloping summits into the perfect model of a Grecian temple, and 
lifted from the midst of the plain the Acropolis and Mars' Hill — fit 
pedestals for temples and statues, fit abodes for gods and god-like 
men; when he reared to heaven Helicon, Parnassus, and the snow- 
capjicd Olympus, -where dwelt the muses and the gods, and poured 
down their sides the rivers in which the river-gods had their dwell- 
ing})lace, and from which the muses derived their origin; when he 
diversified the whole country Avith mountain and valley, with plain 
and ])romontory, with sea and land, with fountain, and river, and 
bay, and strait, aiul island, and isthmus, and peninsula, as no other 
country in the world, within the same compass, is diversified, and 


thus gave to each district ahuost every variety of soil, climate, and 
natural scenery; when he drew the outline of the shores windino- 
and waving, as if for the very purpose of realizing the ideal line of 
beauty, and spread around them the clear, liquid, laughino- waters 
of the T:oXv(f)Xoio(3oio 6a/iaaoi]g,^ and poured over sea and land the 
pure transparent air and bright sunshine which distino-uish Gi'eece 
in the dry season scarcely less than the rainless Egypt, and cano- 
pied the whole with that Avonderfully deep and liquid sky, blue 
down to the very horizon, which is the never-ceasing admiration of 
foreigners who visit Athens."^ 

The Greeks were first so called by the Latins, A^ho probably 
obtained their earliest acquaintance with them from The Greeks 
one of their northern tribes called the Gra^ci (TpaiKOi). called Hellenes. 
Thence the name passed into most of the languages of Europe. 
But the more proper name of the nation was Hellenes {"EXXipeg), 
and the entire territory they occupied was called in general Hellas. 
The earliest settlements and history of the Hellenes are veiled in 
obscurity. The common tradition is, that they were descended 
from Hellen, the son of Deucalion and Pyrrha, who survived the 
flood. According to the genealogy of nations given in the tenth 
chapter of Genesis, we trace them back to Javan, the son of 
Japheth (Gen. x, 2). The name Javan (|V) is the Hebrew equiva- 
lent of Ion ( "Iw?^), the traditional ancestor of the lonians, Avith 
whom the Phoenicians and the Semitic peojDles would naturally 
identify the entire Hellenic race.* 

The ancient Hellenes early branched off into numerous tribes, 
known as the Dorians, iEolians, Achfeans, and lonians. Tribes and ciia- 
and, according to that linguistic law which we have '^cts. 
noticed above,* these scattered tribes soon became distinguished by 
differences of dialect. Not only may we now discover the princi- 
pal dialects, viz., the Doric, ^Eolic, Ionic, and Attic,^ and trace 
different periods in the dcAxdopment of these, such as old, middle, 
and new; but less noticeable differences may be also traced, as the 
more or less divergent speech of the Thessalonians, Boeotians, 
Laconians, and Sicilians. Passing by the confused legends of the 

' " Many-fsounding sea," Homer, Iliad, i, 34. 

* Oration at Andover Theological Seminary on Atliens, or Esthetic Culture and the 
Art of Expression, imblished in Bibliotheca Sacra, Jan., 1863. 

'' See Smith, Dictionary of tlic Bihle, article Javan. 

^ See page ^2. 

^ See, on these several dialects, the second and improved edition of Kiihner, Aus- 
fiahrliche Grammatik der griechiseben Sprache, Einleitung, pp. t-SV. Hannover, 


earliest migrations, and the history and peculiarities of the Doric 
and ^olic dialects, we may well believe that the lonians having 
crossed the xEgean Sea from Athens, settled on the western coast 
of Asia Minor, and took the le^d of all the Greek tribes in the 
develoi^ment of literature and art. The most ancient 
monuments of their literature are the poems of Homer 
and Hesiod. But it would scarcely be proper to assume that the 
lano-uage of these poems was the common language of the people. 
As poets, they would be likely to appropriate many archaic and 
unusual forms. Hence the Greek language, as exhibited in these 
most ancient works, is called the Epic. A later form of Ionic 
si)eech is seen in the few fragments of lyric poetry attributed to 
Archilochus, Callinus, and Mimnermus. To a still later period be- 
lono-s the well-known Ionic prose writer and historian, Herodotus. 
These writings represent, respectively, the old, the middle, and the 
new Ionic Greek. This dialect is believed to represent more near- 
ly than others the ancient Hellenic language. Its early and impor- 
tant literature would naturally give it a permanency, but, after their 
first remarkable activity, the lonians declined. 

Meanwhile Athens, the mother city of the lonians, began to rise 
in power and fame, and gradually acquired supremacy among the 
Grecian cities. The Attic capital became the centre of intellec- 
tual activity. Thither repaired Hellenic youths from all the tribes 
to study models of elegance and taste, and the Attic di- 
Atccu ure. ^\qq^^ became, by degrees, the language of the educated 
classes throughout the states of Greece. But in the Attic, as in 
the Ionic, we may note three periods, the old, the middle, and the 
new. The old Attic differed but little from the Ionic, for the 
lonians were originally inhabitants of Attica. In this dialect the 
distinouishcd Athenian lawgiver, Solon, wrote his laAvs and poems, 
several fragments of which are still extant. The middle Attic rep- 
resents the language in the golden period of its elegance and glory. 
Its classic monuments are the historical works of Thucydides and 
Xenophon, the orations of Isocrates and Lj^sias, the philosophical 
dialogues of Plato, and the dramatic poetry of ^schylus, Sopho- 
cles, Euripides, and Aristophanes. The new Attic is usually dated 
from Demosthenes and -^Eschincs, Avhose orations are regarded 
as models of eloquence. But after the Macedonian conquest 
(B.C. 338) the Attic dialect suffered a gradual decay. The lan- 
guage of the Macedonians, though genuine Greek, was probably 
Dt'oay of Attic "cver reduced to writing by the natives; but the ascend- 
eiegance. ency of these ruder northerners, and their subversion 

of the independence of Athens, had the necessary tendency to 


corrupt the classic speech of Attica, A fusion of dialects ensued. 
Alexander the Great, trained by the philosopher Aristotle, who 
used the Attic, must have become early familiar with that dialect 
and its literature, and his mighty conquests sjDread this lan- 
guage over all Western Asia, and into Egypt. The breaking up 
and intermingling of rival states and communities, and the found- 
ing of Greek colonies in many parts of this vast territory, led to 
numerous departures from the classic forms of Attic speech. Nev- 
ertheless, the Attic dialect remained the basis and controlling fac- 
tor of this later Greek. This widespread lansruasre of 

The later Attic 

the Macedonian Empire, from its appropriation of or common dia- 
words and forms from various sources, and from its ^^'^^' 
general use, received the name of the common dialect {rj kolvt) 
SidXeKTog). The successors of Alexander maintained and spread its 
use into all the principal towns and cities. On the reduction of 
Corinth to a Roman province (B. C. 146) this Greek language and 
literature extended w^estward, and eveiy educated Roman became 
familiar with it. At the beginning of the Christian era, this com- 
mon dialect was written, read, and spoken from Spain on the west 
to the borders of India on the east, and from Sarmatia on the north 
to Ethiopia in the south. " If any one imagines," says Cicero, 
"that a less amount of glory is to be derived from Greek than 
from Latin verses, he greatly errs, for Greek writings are read 
in almost all regions, while the Latin are confined within their 
own limits, which are narrow enough." ' One of the fragm.ents of 
Epictetus declares that " in Rome the women hold Plato's Repub- 
lic in their hands."* "What do the Greek cities desire," asks Sen- 
eca, "in the midst of barbarian countries? What means the Mace- 
donian speech among Indians and Persians ? " ^ It is obvious, 
therefore, how the common language of the widespread Macedonian 
Empire would naturally gather something from almost every quar- 
ter. The later Greek had no longer a variety of dialects, in the 
older sense, but blended many of those ancient local peculiarities, 
and adopted not a few foreign idioms. Yet, in some places, old 
forms would maintain themselves more or less fully. Atticisms 
would prevail at Athens, and Doric forms in the districts where 
the old Doric had formerly prevailed. 

The principal literary centres of this later Attic or common dia- 
lect were Athens, Antioch, and Alexandria. The last- 
named city, founded by Alexander himself, whose keen ^ ''''^'■ycen res. 
foresight perceived that a city occupying this site must certainly 

' Oratio pro A. Licinio Archia, sec. 23. ''Epiet., Frag. 53. 

^L. AnniEus Seneca, Do cotisohitioue ad IleUiain iiiatrevn, vii. 


command the commerce between the East and the West, became, 
under Ptolemy Soter, renowned for literature and science. This 
enterprising ruler founded the famous Alexandrian Library, and 
collected for it the accessible literature of all nations. Thitlier he 
Alexandrian invited philosophers and learned men from all lands, 
culture. and the new city became rapidly filled with the repre- 

sentatives of all schools of philosophy and the devotees of all relig- 
ions. Among all these the Greek was the common language of 
intercourse, and was sometimes called the Macedonian, but more 
commonly the Alexandrine, dialect. 

Meantime the Jews had become largely scattered throughout 
the Macedonian Empire, and, dwelling in numerous cities where 
tlie Greek was generally spoken, they adopted it as their com- 
Aiexandrian ^^^ language. But Alexandria especially contained 
Jews. large numbers of Jews.' The liberal policy of the first 

two Ptolemies (Soter and Philadelphus) invited them thither, and 
their commercial tastes and tact found there peculiar attractions. 
According to well-known tradition, the Septuagint version of the 
Old Testament was made by the direction of one of these kings. 
Internal evidence, however, shows that this version was made at 
different times and by different persons during the three centuries 
preceding the Christian era. As the Jewish exiles at Babylon 
lost by degrees the use of Hebrew, and adopted the tongue of 
the Chaldeans, so the Jews of the dispersion, living in Greek 
cities, adopted the Greek, and required to have their Scriptures 
translated into the same language. These Greek-speaking Jews 

were called Hellenists, and since the beginning of the 
Hellenists. , . , , ^ ^^ , 

seventeenth century it has been customary to call the 

later Greek dialect, as used by Jews, the Hellenistic Greek. On 
the common language of these Greek-speaking Israelites, or Hellen- 
ists, the use of the Se})tuagint version of the Old Testament would 
necessarily exert a moulding influence. The speech of all Hellen- 
ists, whether of Alexand^ia, or Tarsus, or Antioch, or Corinth, 
would acquire a certain peculiarity of style, a kind of ethnic 
tinge. The Greek translators of the Old Testament transferred 
many Hebrew idioms into their version, and found it necessary to 
employ Greek words to express ideas entirely new and foreign to 
the Greek mind. Hebraic forms of speech would thus become com- 
mon among the Hellenists, and differentiate them from other Greek- 
speaking peoples, 

' According to Philo (Treatise against Flaccus, sections vi and viii) they numbered 
n million of men in all Egypt, and constituted about two filths of the entire popula- 
tion of Alexandria. 


When Christianity introduced a new life and religion into the 
world, its sacred books were all written by Jews or Jewish pros- 
elytes, who used the later Hebraic or Hellenistic Greek. These 
writers found it necessary again to use this lansfuage _, . ., 

•> o so Christian ide- 

for the setting forth of ideas and truths which had as influencinjr 
never before been clothed in any human language. ^^^^^ speech. 
New significations thus became attached to old words, and new 
forms of speech were coined to express the concepts of the Gospel. 
Accordingly, the New Testament language and diction have, neces- 
sarily, peculiarities of their own. 

There is, happily, no occasion now to repeat or continue the old 
controversy between the Purists and the Hebraists touching the 
character of the New Testament Greek. The Purists, controversy be- 
in claiming for it all the classic purity and elegance of !^'^6" J'Jf P"!"- 

o 1 J & ists and the He- 

the ancient Greek, seem to have been actuated by the braists. 
same principle as those who contended for the inspiration of the He- 
brew vowel-points. To them it seemed also a disparagement of the 
holy books to say that they wei'e written in a corrupted dialect, or 
one less pure and perfect than any Grecian models. On the other 
hand, some of the Hebraists went to the extreme of charging bar- 
barisms and manifold inaccuracies upon the language of the New 
Testament writers. Comparative philology, and more thorough 
linguistic research, have rendered the old controversies obsolete, 
and it is now seen, in the light of history and of the science of 
language, how and why the Hellenistic Greek of the New Testa- 
ment differs from the older classic tongue.' 

' So early as the latter part of the sixteenth century, Beza (De dono Linguae, etc., 
on Acts X, 46) acknowledged the Hebraisms of the New Testament, but extolled them 
as being 'of such a nature that in no other idiom could expressions be so happily 
formed; nay, in some cases not even formed at all" in an adequate manner. He con- 
sidered them as "gems with which [the apostles] had adorned their writings." The 
famous Robert Stephens (Pref. to his N. Test., 1576) declared strongly against those, 
" qui in his scriptis [sacris] inculta omnia et horrida esse putant ; " and he laboured 
not only to show that the New Testament contains many of the elegancies of the true 
Grecian style, but that even its Hebraisms give inimitable strength and energy to its 
diction. Thus far, then, Hebraism was not denied but vindicated; and it was only 
against allowing an excess of it, and against alleged incorrectnesses and barbarisms, 
that Beza and Stephens contended. 

Sebastian Pfochen (Diatribe de Ling. Graec. N. Test, puritate, 1C29) first laboured 
in earnest to show that all the expressions employed in the New Testament are found 
in good classic Greek authors. In 1658, Erasmus Schmidt vindicated the same ground. 
But before this, J. Junge, rector at Hamburg, published (in 1637, 1689) his opinion 
in favour of the purity (not the classic elegance) of the New Testament diction; which 
opinion was vindicated by Jac. Grosse, pastor in the same city, in a series of five 
essays published in 1640 and several successive years. The last four of these were 
directed against the attacks of opponents, i. e., of advocates for the Hellenistic diction 


The sources from which we are to learn the peculiarities of 

. . the later Greek are the writers of the Alexandrine 

Sources of in- , 

formation and and Roman periods of Greek literature, but more espe- 
^^^^y- cially the grammarians, scholiasts, and lexicographers, 

who have expressly treated of the diiierences between Attic ele- 
gance and the corruj^tions of the later Greek. But the great 
monuments of the Hellenistic Greek are the Septuagint version of 
the Old Testament, the apocryphal books, and the scriptures of the 
New Testament. The writings of Philo Judteus, Josephus, the 
Apostolical Fathers, and sundry writers of the later Roman period, 
have also a value in this connexion; but the New Testament itself 
must furnish the principal illustrations for the purpose of the bibli- 
cal interpreter. It is of the first importance for us to remember 
that the New Testament writers learned their Greek not from 
books, but from the language of common life. There is no suffi- 
cient reason for believing that any of the Evangelists or Apostles 
were extensively familiar with Greek literature; not even Paul, 
who, indeed, quotes from Greek writers (Acts xvii, 28; Titus i, 12), 

of the New Testament; viz., against Dan. Wulfer's Innocentia Hellenist, vindicata 
(IGIO), and an essay of the like nature by J. Musoeus of Jena (lC-11, 1612). 

Independently of this particular contest, D. Ileinsius (in 1C43) declared himself in 
favour of Hellenism; as also Thos. Gataker (164S), who avowedly wrote in oppositioa 
to Pfochen, with much learning, but rather an excessive leaning to Hebraism. Joh. 
Vorstius (1658, 16G.5) wrote a book on Hebrai.-nis, which is still common. On some 
excesses in this book Horace Vitringa made some brief but pithy remarks. Some- 
what earlier than these last wi'itings, J. H. Boeder (1041) published remarks, in which 
he took a kind of middle way between the two parties; as did J. Olcarius (1G68), and 
J. Leusden about the same time. It was about this time, also, that the majority of 
critical writers began to acknowledge a Hebrew element in the New Testament diction, 
which, however, they did not regard as constituting hnrhnrhm, but only as giving an 
oriental hue to the diction. M. Solanus, in an able essay directed against the tract of 
Pfochen, vindicated this position. J. H. Michaelis (1707), and A. Blackwall (Sacred 
Classics, 1727), did not venture to deny the Hebraisms of the New Testament, but 
aimed principally to show that did not detract from the qualities of a good and 
elegant style ; so that, in this respect, the New Testament writers were not inferior to 
the classical ones. The work of the latter abounds with so many excellent remarks, 
that it is worthy of attention from every critical reader, oven of the jircsont time. 

In 1722, Siegm. Georgi, in his Vindiciae, etc., and in 17"):> in his Hiurocriticus Sacer, 
vindicated anew the old views of the Purists; but without changing the tide of 
opinion. The same design J. C. Schwartz had in view in his Conmi. crit. et philol. 
in Ling. Graec. (1G30); who was followed, in 1752, by E. Palairct (Observ. philol. crit. 
in N. Test.), the last, I believe, of all the Purists. 

Most of the earlier dissertations above named, with some others, were published 
together in a volume by J. Rhenford, entitled Dissert.itionuin jihilol. thool. <lc Stylo 
N. Test. Syntagma, 17<i2 ; and the later ones by T. H. Vau dcu Iloncrt, in his Syntagma 
Dissertatt. de Stylo N. Test. Graeco, 1703. Stuart, Grammar of the New Testament 
Dialect, pp. 8, 9. Andover, 1841. 


for such passages as he cites were of a kind that would naturally 
be current among the people. 

Planck, in his valuable Dissertation on the true nature and char- 
acter of the Greek Style of the New Testament/ classi- pecuiiaiities 
fies its chief peculiarities and characteristics under eio-ht ?'^? chrrLctcr- 

^ . . _ * istics or Hel- 

heads, which, in the main, we follow, though drawing lenisiic Greek. 
our illustrations from many other sources. 

1. Words adopted into the Greek language from foreign sources. 
Here belong the Aramaic words already noticed; such 

as Abba, Mphphatha, Gorban, Aceldama / names of Ro- 
man coins; as drjvdgtov, Latin denarius; KoSgdvrrig, 2i farthinr/, from 
the Latin quadrans ; TTgairojgiov, Latin j^'^''^^ to Hum (John xviii, 28); 
(peX6v7]g, written also (paiXovi-jg, (peX6)V7]q, and (jyaOMvrjg (2 Tim. iv, 13,) 
corrupt form of (fyatvoXrjg, from the Latin pcenula, a cloak. 

2. Words peculiar in their orthography and pronunciation. The 
New Testament writers did not follow any common peculiar or- 
standard of orthography. Peter, John, Paul, and James thogmpiiy. 
had each his peculiar method of spelling certain words, and proba- 
bly transcribers of their manuscripts used still a different method, 
according to the custom of later times. In this respect the most 
ancient manuscripts exhibit variations. Alexandrian copies differ 
in orthography from those of Constantinople, and the writers or 
transcribers seem in many instances to have been governed by a 
preference for certain dialectic- forms; as derog, eagle (Matt, xxiv, 
2S), an Attic form for alerdg; vaXog, glass (Rev. xxi, 18), instead 
of veXog; 'iletog, merciful (Ileb. viii, 12), instead of IXaog. Doric 
orthography is seen in rad^ij), to arrest (John vii, 30), instead of 
mei^'w ; KXiiSavog, oven (Luke xii, 28), instead of Kpifiavog; Ionic, in 
(^adiiog, grade or degree (1 Tim. iii, 13), for [3aciwg; trgrivfig, Jieadlong 
(Acts i, 18), for ngav7'jg. 

3. Peculiarities in the flexion of nouns and verbs. The form 
'AttoA/Lo) is used for the accusative (Acts xix, 1), and ^jg^jQ^ ^j 
the genitive (1 Cor. i, 12); the accusative vyii], sound, nouns and 
whole (John v, 11, 15; Titus ii, 8), instead of the more '^^^^^' 
usual form vyid/ d(pievTai, or dtpeojvTai, are forgiven (Matt. 
ix, 2, 5; Luke v, 20; 1 John ii, 12), is used instead of d(*)EivraL; 
icd-dov, sit thoic (Matt, xxii, 44; James ii, 3), instead of Kadtjao, and 
Kdi9^, thou sittest (Acts xxiii, 3), instead of Kd-^rjaai. We have also 

' Commentatio de vera Natura atque Indole Orationis Graecae Novi Testament!, by 
Henry Planck, Prof, in the University of Gottinsen. This very important essay was 
first published in 1810, and was afterward republi.-^lied in Rosenmiiller's Comnienta- 
tiones Theologicae, 1825. It was translated into English by E. Robinson, and pub- 
lished in the American Biblieal Repository, Andover, Oct., 1831. 


tlie termination av for aai, as eyvw/cav for eyvo)Kaoi, they have known 
(John xvii, V), and the insertion of the syllable oa in the third person 
plural of some words, as kdoXiovaav for kdoXiovv, tJiey deceived 
(Rom. iii, 13).' 

4. The heterogeneous use of nouns. Thus OKorog, darkness is 
Heterogeneous "sed in the masculine and neuter genders; Xi^og, fam- 
nouiis. ijie, and (Bdrog, bramble, in masculine and feminine. 
We have the neuter plural in rd Seoixd, the bands (Luke viii, 29), 
and the masculine plural rovg deofxovg (Phil, i, 13), and tXeog, mercy, 
which is used as masculine by all classic Greek writers, is used as 
neuter in the Septuagint and in the New Testament. Compare 
Luke i, 50, 58; Rom. ix, 23; Jude 21, and (Septuagint) Gen. xix, 
19; Num. xi, 15. 

5. Peculiar forms of words, which passed down from ancient 
Neworpecuiiar dialects into the common language, or else were coined 
forms of words, anew according to some ^jrevious analogy. Of this 
class we have (1) among Nouns: dXeKrcop, a cock, a Doric or poetic 
form for dXeKTQvo)i', OKorla, darkness (Matt, x, 27; John A'i, 17), for 
OKOToq; olKodoiirj, building (1 Cor. iii, 9; xiv, 5; Eph. ii, 21), for 
olfcodonrjua; neromeaia, exile (Matt, i, 11), for iieroiKia, or ne~oiKT]aig', 
fiad^irpia, a female disciple (Acts ix, 36), for fj,a^rjrQig; KardXvfia, a 
lodginy place (Luke ii, 7), for KaTaycjyiov; al-rjua, a request (Phil, 
iv, 6), for aLT7]atg', and many other nouns ending in [.La, for Avhich the 
more classic language used the endings t], eia, and oig. (2) Among 
Verbs we find a tendency to jjrefer the ending oco, as dvaKacvoo), to 
reneio {2 Cov. iv, 10; Col. iii, 10), instead of dvuKatvi^u); KQaraioo), 
to become strong (Luke i, 80; ii, 40; Eph. iii, 16), instead of KQarvvu); 
oagou), to sioeep (Luke xv, 8), instead of oaipo)', SeKaroG) to tithe 
(Heb. vii, 6, 9), instead of 6eKarevG). Other Hellenistic forms are 
OQdQiCo), to do anything early in the morning (Luke xxi, 38), insteac 
of b^dQEvoi; dA?/t9a), to grind (Matt, xxiv, 41), instead of dAew; 
vridix), to spin (Matt, vi, 28), instead of vew. (3) Among Adjec- 
tives we have diTeiQaaroc, not temptable (James i, 13) for dTTeiQarog; 
dfiaQTcoXog, sinful (Luke v, 8, and often), for dfiaQrrjXog; dpdQivog, 
early (Luke xxiv, 22, and Text. Rec. of Rev. xxii, 16), for oQdpiog; 
and (4) among ApvKnns, li^aTriva, stiddenly (Mark ix, 8), for k^a-n- 
ivT]g; -navoinL, tcith all om-'s house (Acts xvi, 34), for navoLKia, or 

6. AVords either peculiar to the ancient dialects, or altogether 
oifi dialects new. Of the former class are eKxpoifia, an abortion 
andnewwords. (j Qq^, xv, 8), an lonic word, for which the Attics used 
dju/3/la)jua, or ^|djLt/3Awjua; and yoyyvsw, to murmur (John vii, 32), 

' See many other rare forms in Winer's Grammar, §§ 13, 14. 


and yoyyvajid^, murmuring (John vii, 12; Acts vi, 1), Ionic words 
for which the Attics employed rov-&Qv^i.} and Tov6pvo[j,6g. New 
words were coined to express things which were unknown to the 
ancient Greeks, and peculiar to the Jews or the New Testament 
writers; as dvdpunrdpeoKog, a tnan-pleaser (Eph. vi, 6; Col. iii, 22), 
aXXorpioeniaKonog, an overseer of other people's matters (1 Peter 
iv, 15), a();^i(7i'vdyw-yo(;', ruler of the synagogue (Mark v, 35), sMwAo- 
XaTQtia, idol-ioorship (1 Cor, x, 14; Gal. v, 20), ScodeKacpvXov, the 
Ijevple of the twelve tribes (Acts xxvi, 7). Compare also the lexicons 
on dvvaiioo), and evSvvaixoo), to strengthen, and (ieftrjlooi^ to profane. 

7. A notable feature of the New Testament dialect consists in 
the new siofnifications given to words. To trace such 

,.„ . - New sipnlflca- 

clianges and modifications of meaning, and unfold the tions given to 
development of biblical ideas, is the most difficult and '^'^^'^^• 
delicate task of the New Testament lexicographer. He must do 
more than treat the varying forms of words; he must expound the 
history of thought, and thus become, in the fullest sense, an exegete,* 
An instance of a word acquiring a new signification may be seen 
in evayyeXcov, used in the ancient classic authors in the sense of 
reioard for good news given to the messenger; in Isocrates and 
Xenophon it is used of sacrifice for a good message y and still later 
it came to signify the good message itself Thence it acquired in 
the New Testament the special sense of the good news of salvation 
in Jesus Christ. So, too, the word TrapanaXeo) was used in the an- 
cient Greek as meaning to call to, to call unto an assembly, or to 
invite to an entertainment. But in the New Testament we find it 
used for begging, conforting, and exhorting. The word eIqtjvt], 
peace, quiet, as contrasted with war and commotion, easily came to 
be used of peace of mind, tranquillity. Then, in the Septuagint and 
New Testament it took up and embodied the idea of icell-heing, 
v^elfare, as represented in the Hebrew Di^C*, and in connection with 
X^Qiq and eXeoq, grace and mercy, as in the salutation of the apos- 
tolical epistles, denotes the blessed state of soul-rest obtained by 
remission of sin through Jesus Christ. So peace with God, in Rom. 
v, 1, is the new and happy relationship between God and man 
obtained through faith in the atonement of Christ.^ 

' Xo morlern writer has done a greater service in this department than Dr. Hermann 
Cremer, whose Biblico-Theological Lexicon of New Testament Greek is a rare monu- 
ment of learning and critical research, and indispensable to the herraeneutics of the 
Christian Scriptures. For extensive illustration of New Testament words in their 
depth and fulness of meaning, see this Lexicon on the words /SaTTTi'^w, ovofxa, ovpavoc, 
'jrityric, uyioc, fie-avoii,), Koa/ioc, raTzeivoc, uyaTTuu), and uyuTTT;. 

^ A like development or modification of meaning may be traced in the words anoKpi- 
vo, avaTTiTTTcj, avaKEHiai, evxapiareu, nrufia, etc. 


"It would have been impossible," observes Bleek,' "to give ex- 
pression to all the religious conceptions and Christian ideas of the 
New Testament, had the writers strictly confined themselves to the 
words and phrases in use among the Greeks, and with the significa- 
tions usually attached to them. These Christian ideas were quite 
unknown to the Greeks, and they had never formed phrases suitable 
to give expression to them. On the other hand, most of these 
ideas and conceptions already existed in germ in the Old Testa- 
ment, and Avere more or less familiar to the Jews by means of ap- 
propriate designations. Hence they would be best expressed for 
Greek-speaking Jews in the words by which they had been ren- 
dered in the Septuagint. These expressions would naturally be 
chosen and spread by those teachers who were of Jewish extraction 
and education, and would, of course, be adopted generally to denote 
Christian ideas. Many of these expressions had been ordinary Greek 
words, Avhose meanings had been made fuller and higher when 
applied among the Jews to religious subjects, and which retained 
tliese meanings when adopted by the Christian Church, or were 
again modified and further elevated, just as the ideas and conceptions 
of the Old Testament revelation were modified and elevated by 
Christianity. Hence it frequently came to pass, that when a Greek 
word in its ordinary signification corresponded with a Hebrew or 
Aramean word, the derived and developed meanings attaching to the 
latter would be transferred to the former, and the Greek word would 
be used in the higher sense of the Hebrew or Aramean woi'd, al- 
though this meaning had before been unknown to Greek usage."' 

8. it remains for us to notice more especially the Hebraisms of 

the New Testament lauffuaofe, that transfer of Hebrew 
Hcbrciisms ^ ~ 

idioms and forms of expression into Greek, which Attic 

purity and taste would at once pronounce corruptions or barbarisms. 

Winer has shown that most of the older writers on this subject have 

included in their list of Hebraisms many expressions which arc not 

unknown to the Greek prose writers, or are the common property 

of many languages. He distinguishes two kinds of Hebraisms in the 

New Testament, the perfect and the imperfect. Perfect Hebraisms 

include those words, phrases, and constructions which are strictly 

l^eculiar to the Hebrew or Aramean, and were transferred directly 

thence into the Hellenistic idiom. Imperfect Hebraisms are all 

those words, phrases, and constructions, which, though found in 

' Introduction to the New Testament. Eng. translation, by Urwick ; pp. 72, 73. 

' See abundant illustration of this in such words as XpKrrof, Christ ; rrvevfia, spir- 
it; X6yn(;^ word; auTripia, salvation ; airu'Xeia, destruction ; KKrjTog, called; iKK?^Tia(a, 
church ; diKaioavftj, riffhtcoitsness. 


Greek prose writers, have been in all probability introduced direct- 
ly from the Hebrew.' 

(a) Not only were Hebrew or Aramaic words literally adopted 
into the New Testament Greek (like 'Aj3/3a, Ar. NUN', 

Father, Mark xiv, 86, Rom. viii, 15 ; i^oavvd, Heb. ^°'^*^" 
NrnrL*'in, Hoscmna, save noic, John xii, 13 ; lardv, Heb. \l^V, /Satan, 
2 Cor. xii, 7 ; aUspa, Heb. 13'^, strouff drink, Luke i, 15), but Greek 
words were made to represent distinctively Hebrew conceptions; 
as p7][J.a, word, in the broad and indefinite sense of the Heb. "in'l. 

• T T* 

thi>i(/, matter, aj^air. So in Luke ii, 15: ro pqfxa tovto to yeyovog, 
this thing that has come to pass. The Greek word c-rrXdyxva, botcels, 
takes, in the New Testament, the sense of tender affection, sympathy; 
from the common usage of the Heb. D''pn"i. Hence the verbal form 
GrXay'xyiil,o[iai, to have compassion. 

(b) Then there are numerous forms of expression which are 
traceable directly to the Hebrew; as ^rjrelv Tr]v ipvxrjv, p-orms of ex- 
Heb. ti'^r^^ ^1?^, to seek the life of any one (Matt, ii, 20 ; pression. 
Rom. xi, 3) ; Xaii(idveLv ttqooojttov, Heb. Q"'JS NC'J, to accept the 
person, that is, to lift his face, or show partiality (Luke xx, 21; Gal. 
ii, 6) ; rideadai kv rr} KapSia, Heb. 3p3 DIK', to p>lcice or lay tqy in the 
heart (Luke i, 66; xxi, 14; Acts v^ 4); arofia fxaxciiQag, Heb. 3"!n"*5, 
mouth of the sword (Luke xxi, 24; Heb. xi, 34); Kal eyevero very 
frequently for "n^l, a7id it came to pass. 

(c) The New Testament Greek has also appi'opriated sundry gram- 
matical constructions peculiar to the Hebrew. (1) Many Grammatical 
verbs are followed by prepositions governing the ac- constructions. 
cusative or dative, where, in classic Greek, the verbs alone govern 
Avithout a preposition. Compare the New Testament use of the 
words TTpoGKvvecx), to worship; cfyevycj), to flee; bjinXoyeu), to confess. 
(2) The particle el is used in expressing a negative oath after the 
form of the Hebrew DX, if "I swore in my wrath if they shall 
enter into my rest" (Heb. iii, 11). That is, they shall not enter. 
Compare Mark viii, 12. (3) The verb Trpoorldrjju is used, like the 
He])rew flD^, with another verb, to denote additional action: "He 
added to send another servant'^ (Luke xx, 11). "He added (i. e., 
proceeded) to take Peter also" (Acts xii, 3). (4) An imitation of 
the Hebrew infinitive absolute is apparent in Luke xxii, 15: emi^f/im 
em-&viirjaa, "with desire I desired to eat this passoA^er." That is, 
I longingly, or earnestly, desired. John iii, 29 : %apa ;t^tp£^ " with 
joy he rejoices;" he greatly rejoices. Acts iv, 17: d~F.tX'^ dirnXiiGO)- 
IJ-sda, " with threatening let us threaten them." (5) In Rev. vii, 2 
we note the pleonastic use of the pronoun in imitation of a "VAell- 

' See Winer, Grammar of the Idiom of the New Testament, § 3. 


known use of the Ileb. "iti'X : olg edodi] avrolg, '■'■to whom it "was given 
to them. Compare also the adverbial relative in Rev. xii, 14: o-r:ov 
TgE(f)eTat eKel, '■'■ xohere she is nourished <Aere,"^Heb. D'cJ* • • • "i*J'X. 
(6) The Hebrew use of nouns in the genitive as substitutes for the 
kindred adjective is very common : as, Xbyoi rrjg ;^;dpfT05', tcords of 
grace, for gracious loords (Luke iv, 22); OKsvog eKXoyrjg, vessel of 
choice, for chosen vessel (Acts ix, 15); "the power of his might," for 
his mighty power (Eph. i, 19); steicard of unrighteousness and 
Mammon of unrighteousness (Luke xvi, 8, 9), for unrighteous stew- 
ard and unrighteous Mammon; and judge of unrighteousness (Luke 
xviii, 6), for unrighteous judge. Sometimes these genitive forms 
yield a profound significance, as in Eph. i, 18: "The riches of the 
glory of his inheritance in the saints," where it would take much 
from the force of the expression to say, " His rich and glorious in- 
heritance," or " His gloriously rich inheritance." 

The New Testament Greek has also some peculiarities of syntax, 
of which, however, it is unnecessary here to treat. The Hellenistic 
writers naturally preferred short sentences, after the manner of the 
Hebrew. But every student will observe the differences of style 

„ . ,. , , , amonof the New Testament writers. The Pauline epis- 

Vanoties of style » '■ 

in New Testa- tlos exhibit a more involved and polemic style tlian 
ment writers. ^^^^^ ^^j^^^. poi-tio^^ ^f the Christian Scriptures. But 

these differ noticeably among themselves. The Thessalonian epis- 
tles have a natural and easy flow, but the prophetic portions, espe- 
cially 2 Thcss. ii, have peculiarities of their own. In the Epistles 
to the Romans and Galatians we notice the marked argumentative 
stvle as contrasted with the more familiar tone and didactic straight- 
forwardness of the pastoral epistles. The Corinthian epistles have 
an air of freedom and authority which is not so apparent in Ephe- 
sians, Philippians, and Colossians, the epistles of Paul's imprison- 
ment, llie Epistle to the Hebrews is written in a purer Greek, 
and has a beauty and flow of style quite in advance of the epistles 
acknowledged to be Pauline. The Epistle of James is noted for 
the exceptional purity and elegance of its language, and Luke, 
"the beloved physician," who was probably not a Jew by birth 
(Col. iv, 11, comp. verse 14), writes a more classic Greek than any 
other of the evangelists. The Gospel and Epistles of John have 
numerous peculiarities of diction ; simple and childlike forms of 
expressing most eleva4^ed and profound spiritual conceptions ; but 
the Apocalypse is the most Hebraistic in thought and language of 
all the New Testament books.' 

' On the linguistic peculiarities of the different Now Testament writers, comp. Im- 
mer, Hermeneutics of the New Testament, pp. 132-144. 


It will not be difficult for any one to perceive that Hellenistic 
writers, familiar with the prophetic language of the Old Testament, 
would be likely to transfer its bold and vivid imagery into their 
Greek, especially when they themselves were writing prophecy. 
When Isaiah portrays the coming doom of Babylon, he sees all 
nature in convulsion. "Behold, the day of Jehovah comee, cruel, 
and Avrath, and burning of anger. . . . For the stars of the heavens 
and their constellations shall not shed forth their lisrht: dark has 
the sun become in his going forth, and the moon will not cause her 
light to shine" (Isa. xiii, 9, 10). Compare also chap, xxiv, 19-23; 
xxxiv, 1-10; Nahum i, 3-6. The celebrated passage in Rom. 
viii, 19-23 is truly Hebraic in the vividness of its metaphorical con- 
ceptions. The whole creation is represented as groaning, hoping, 
willing, and looking eagerly for the revelation {dnoKdXvtpiv) of the 
sons of God. We need not wonder, therefore, that in such pro- 
phetic passages as the twenty-fourth of Matthew, and the Apoca- 
lypse of John, we have the spirit and imagery of the Old Testament 
predictions reproduced, and the language of the Greeks employed 
in forms and symbols such as it had never previously used. The 
Hebrew spirit of prophecy was thus inbreathed into Grecian speech. 

If there may be seen any divine purpose, or any special signifi- 
cance, in the use of the Hebrew and Chaldee tongues to Greek the most 
embody the Old Testament revelation, there Avas also a suitable lan- 
reason for clothing the Christian revelation in the Ian- ctnTstianScrip- 
guage of the Greeks. The Law and the Prophets were ^'^^'■*^^- 
designed especially for the sons of Abraham, a chosen and peculiar 
peoj^le ; but the New Testament revelation w^as for the world. The 
miracle of tongues on the day of Pentecost was prophetic, indicat- 
ing that the new word, then first speaking publicly to the world, 
would make itself heard in all the living languages of men. Par- 
thians and Medes and Elamites, and those that inhabi^red Meso- 
potamia, Judea, and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phr3^gia and 
Pamphylia, Egypt and the jjarts of Libya about Cyrene, and stran- 
gers of Rome, both Jews and j^roselytes, Cretes and Arabians 
(Acts ii, 9-11) heard with amazement that first preaching of the 
Gospel, for they heard them speaking " every one in his own dia- 
lect" (elg eKaarog ry ISla ScaXeicTG), ver. 6.) These Avere all devout 
Hellenists, then sojourning in Jerusalem (ver. 5) ; and in all the 
provinces of the empire from which they came Greek was the com- 
mon dialect. Besides their own vernacular, these Hellenists under- 
stood and spoke the language of the Greeks. What more fitting, 
then, than that the new Gospel should embody its written records 
in this most nearly perfect and universal language of that age? 


"The Jews require signs" (a7)[xela), observes the most erudite 
writer of the New Testament, "but the Greeks seek for wisdom" 
{no(f)iav, 1 Cor. i, 22). As if to meet these proclivities, the Okl 
Testament has been set forth in a hieroglyphic language of the 
early world, in which every letter is a sign or picture of something 
visible; while the New Testament is Avritten in the historic lan- 
guage of rcsthetic culture and philosophy. The tongue of the 
versatile Hellenes was peculiarly suited to express and preserve for 
all nations the Gospel of the power and wisdom of God (1 Cor, 
i, 24), which was destined to overthrow Judaism, and confoiind the 
boasted wisdom of the world. 

We may well believe, then, that the use of Hebrew, Chaldee, 
and Greek, as the original languages of the Scriptures, was no mere 
accident of history, but a particular providence, grounded in 
highest wisdom. The fact that they have all ceased to be living 
languages since the inspired records they embody came to be 
recognized as a sacred trust, is truly significant. The means 
of ascertainins: and illustrating the sense of these records are 
ample; and the divine oracles thus abide, sanctified and set apart 
in well-known foi'ms of speech which can never again be disturbed 
by linguistic changes or the revolutions of empire. The Hebrew, 
like the temple at Jerusalem, will be studied as a wonder of the 
world. The temj^le's great and costly stones, its unique architec- 
ture, and divine plan and purpose — in all essentials a copy of the 
pattern shown to Moses in the mount of God (Exod. xxv, 40) — 
held notable analogy with the unique and expressive forms of He- 
brew speech, in which words stand forth as sacred symbols, aiid 
grammatical constructions are made to suggest profoundest concep- 
tions of the holiness of God and the redemption of mankind. T]ie 
Chaldoe chapters of Daniel and Ezra are like the monumental 
slabs from the ruined palaces of Babylonian and Persian kings — 
imperishable witnesses that God once spoke to those mighty na- 
tions, and, when they were in highest power and jDomp, and Israel 
in exile and humiliation, foretold their utter ruin, and the certain 
triumph of truth and righteousness in the kingdom of the God of 
heaven. The Greek lantruao;©, like the famous Parthenon at 
Athens, breathes a marvellous expressiveness, and abounds in mod- 
els of beauty. But in its Hellenistic style and New Testament 
form we admire the divine wisdom, the deep philosophy, and the 
practical judgment, which a])propriated the common dialect of a 
Avorld-wide civilization, and consecrated its potent formulas of 
thought to preserve and perpetuate the Gospel. 




Biblical Criticism is a term which has often been applied to the 
critical treatment of nearly all topics that come xmder 
the head of Bihlical Introduction, such as questions of lower criti- 
the date and authorship of the sacred books, and also ^^^' 
of interpretation itself. This use of the term is more definitely 
known as the Higher Criticism. The other and more proper sense 
is that which restricts it to the critical labours which aim to restore 
the original texts of the Bible. This usage of the word is often 
called the Lower Criticism, It treats the forms and order in which 
the books of the Bible have been arranged, the history, condition, 
and relative value of the ancient manuscript copies, and the differ- 
ent printed editions of the original texts. It collates and compares 
ancient manuscripts, versions, and quotations, and lays down rules 
and principles by which to detect corruptions and determine the 
genuine reading. 

It frequently occurs that the interpretation of a passage of Scrip- 
ture is so far involved in a question of textual criticism The interpreter 
that the critical treatment of the text is essential to the ^T^l^i^^!°^^, 

a c o m p e t e n t 

exposition. Especially is this true in the case of texts textual criiic. 
so doubtful that the ablest critics differ in judgment as to the gen- 
uine reading. An exegete who proceeds with the explanation of 
such a doubtful passage, utterly ignoring or indifferent to the un- 
certainty of the text itself, exhibits himself as an untrustworthy 
guide. The competent intei'preter of Scripture is supposed to be _ 
thoroughly versed in the history and principles of textual criti- 
cism, and it is proper that in this Introduction to Biblical Her- 
meneutics we dcA'ote a brief chapter to this subject. Our space 
and the purpose of this volume will allow us only to present the 
leading j^rinciples and canons.' 

' On the subject of Textual Criticism see Davidson, Biblical Criticism (2 vols., Edin- 
burgh, 1852), and Revision of the Hebrew Text of the Old Testament (London, 1855) ; 
Strack, Prolegomena Critica in Vet. Testamentum Ilebraicum (Lps., 1873); F. II. 
Scrivener, Plain Introduction to the Criticism of the New Testament (Second Ed., 
Cambridge, 18*74); Home, Introduction to the Holy Scriptures, vol. ii, pp. 1-112 (Ayre 
& Tregelles' Ed., 4 vols., Lond., 18fi2); Tregelles, Account of the Printed Text of the 


In all ancient writings whicli have oome down to us in a great 
Causes of vari- number and variety of manuscri]^ts, we find a multi- 
ous readings, t^jg Qf various readings. These have arisen ^liainlj 
through the carelessness of transcribers: but, in some instances, 
perhaps, through design. Copyists accidentally confounded similar 
words, and sometimes transposed, repeated, or omitted letters and 
words. Some of the ancient manuscripts contained marginal notes, 
and in copying from these the glosses were incorporated in the 
text. Sometimes the text was purposely amended by a scribe, 
who thought he could improve it. A difficult or obscure word was 
exchanged for an easy one. A rough passage was made smooth, 
and sometimes a difficult clause or sentence was entirely omitted. 
Sometimes dogmatic and party purposes led to the wilful corrup- 
tion of the text. Thus originated the famous interpolation of the 
three witnesses in 1 John v, 7. Sometimes the manuscripts used in 
translation were themselves imperfect, and so errors would be likely 
to multiply in proportion to the number of manuscripts. 

The sources from which the genuine readings are to be deter- 
mined are mainly ancient manuscripts, ancient ver- 

SourcGStitid, . 

meansof Text- sions, and scriptural quotations found in the works of 
uai Criticism, ancient writers. Parallel passages and critical conjec- 
ture may also be resorted to where other helps are doubtful. The 
received text of the Old Testament is commonly called the Maso- 
retic, from the sj^stem of vowel points and the critical notes ap- 
pended to it by the so-called Masoretes, or Jewish critics. After 
the destruction of Jerusalem by the Romans, and the consequent 
dispersion of the Jews, many learned rabbins continued the culti- 
vation of their national literature. A celebrated school >vas founded 
by them at Tiberias, on the coast of the Sea of Galilee, and con- 
tinued until tlie sixth centurv. The learned critics of this schooi. 
compiled a collection of the critical and grammatical observations 
of the great teachei's, and called it the Masorah. A most important 
part of their work was the preparation of the Keris C""!;?, to he read, 
as distinguished from the H'^n?, that xohv-h is vmtten; i. e., the writ- 
ten text), or marginal readings, vrhich these critics probably gath- 
ered fi-om manuscripts or tradition, and preferred to the reading of 
the received text of their day. So scrupulously careful were the 
Masoretes of every word and letter of the sacred text, that they at- 
tempted no changes in it, but wrote in the margin that which in 
tlieir judgment should be read. All the ancient copies used by these 

Greek New Testament (Lond., 1854). See also the introductions to the critical edi- 
tions of the Greelc Testament by Lachmann, Tischendorf, Tregelles, Alfoid, and West- 
cott and Hort. 


critics seem to have perished, and the later manuscripts, hundreds 
of which have been collated by Kennicott and De Rossi, have little 
value for the emendation of the Old Testament text. Hence little 
has been attempted in this line within the last hundred years. The 
ancient versions and critical conjecture are the princijial means of 
revising the Hebrew text, and such means are always to be used 
with the greatest caution.' 

For the criticism of the New Testament text we have more abun- 
dant materials. There are, first, the uncial manuscripts, written 
in Greek capitals, and without any separation of words. This was 
the most ancient form of writing, and prevailed until the tenth 
century. Next we have the cursive manuscripts, existing in the 
form of writing which came into use in the latter part of the ninth 
century, and soon afterward became the common style. The three 
most ancient and valuable uncials are the so-called Sinaitic, the 
Alexandrian, and the Vatican, usually designated, respectively, m, 
A, and B. Several of the cursive manuscripts are of great value, 
having evidently been copied from very ancient exemplars. Next to 
these ancient manuscripts are the early versions of the New Testa- 
ment, especially the Latin and the Syriac, the oldest of which be- 
long, probably, to the second century. The quotations from the 
New Testament, found in the Avritings of the early Church Fathers, 
are also often of great value in determining the original text. 
These different sources of evidence have to be classified, their rela- 
tive value critically estimated, and reliable rules and principles 
agreed upon for their use. In order to appreciate properly that 
vast amount of labour which has in recent years restored to us an 
approximately pure and trustworthy text of the Greek Testament, 
one needs to make himself familiar with the lives and works of the 
great critics Mill, Bentley, Bengel, Wetstein, Griesbach, Lachmann, 
Tischendorf, and Tregelles. 

The principal Canons of Textual Criticism now generally 
accepted are divisible into two classes, external and internal, 
and may be stated as follows : 


The canons of external evidence are concerned with the char- 
acter, age, and value of manuscripts, and the principles and rules 
by which we are to compare and estimate the relative weight of 
earlier and later copies, and of versions and quotations, 

^ A critical edition of the Masoretic text of the several books of the Old Testament is 
now in course of publication at Leipsic, under the editorial care of S. Baer and Fr. De- 
litzsch. It furnishes much valuable material for the critical study of the Hebrew text. 


1. A reading Avhich is supported by the combined testimony of 
the most ancient manuscripts, the earliest versions, and patristic 
quotations, is generally, without doubt, the genuine reading of the 
original autograph. 

This rule is so self-evident that it needs no comment ; and it is 
an interesting and important fact that so great a part of the New 
Testament rests upon evidence so decisive. Though the whole 
number of various readings is more than a hundred thousand, by 
far the greater part of them consist merely of differences of spelling, 
and other slight variations chiefly due to the peculiar habits of the 
different scribes. The doubtful readings which essentially affect 
the sense are comparatively few, and those which involve questions 
of important doctrine are less than a score.' 

2. The authority and value of manuscript readings consist not in 
the number of manuscripts in which a given reading is found, but 
in the age, character, and country of the manuscripts. 

Though, in some instances, Ave may suppose a cursive manuscript 
has been copied directly from an uncial more ancient than any that 
now exist, yet, as a rule, the uncials are older and more authorita- 
tive than the cursives. They are, therefore, more likely to repre- 
sent the oldest readings. Respecting the age and value of ancient 
manuscripts, we owe great deference to the judgment of experi- 
enced critics. The opinion of men who, like Tischendorf and 
Tregelles, have devoted a lifetime to conscientious studv and col- 
lation of manuscripts, deservedly carries great weight. The eye 
must be practiced to note the ancient forms of letters, and the 
vai-ious methods of writing, abbreviation, and correction. 

3. AVhcn the external evidence is conflicting and of nearly equal 
weight, special importance should be attached to the corres])on- 
dency between widely separated witnesses. 

The concurrence of two ancient maiuiscripts, one belonging to 
the East and the other to the West, would have more weight than 
the agreement of many manuscripts which contain evidence of 

' The proportion of words virtually aocopted on all hands a? raised above doiihf is 
very great — not less, on a rough eomputation, than seven eighths of the whole. The 
remaining eighth, therefore, formed in great part by changes of order and other com- 
parative trivialities, constitutes the whole area of eritieism. . . . We find that, set- 
ting aside dilTiTcnoes of orthography, the words in our opinion still subject to doubt 
only make up aliout one sixtieth of the whole New Testament. In this second esti- 
mate the proportion of comparatively trivial variations is beyond measure larger than 
the former; so that the amount of what can in any sense be called substantial varia- 
tion is but a small fraction of the whole residuary vai'iation, and can hardly form more 
than a thousandth part of the entire te.xt. Westeott and Hort, The New Testament 
in the original Greek. Introduction, p. 2. New York, 1882. 


having been copied directly from one another. The concm-rence 
of tlie Peshito, the Vulgate, and the Ethiopia versions is of great 
weight in determining a doubtful reading. A quotation appear- 
ing in the same form in the writings of Origen, Jerome, and Iren- 
aeus w^ould. thereby acquire an authority tantamount to that of so 
many of the most ancient and valuable manuscripts. 

4, Great discrimination is necessary in the use of the different 
classes of external evidence. 

The reading found in one of the most ancient manuscripts is 
usually to be preferred to that of any one of the ancient versions. 
But there may be considerations of time or place which would ren- 
der the reading of a version more weighty than that of a single 
manuscript. The authority of versions, also, would be greater In 
the case of omissions or additions than in the matter of verbal 
niceties. Patristic testimony, as observed above, depends for much 
of its value on the place and circumstances of the A\riter, The 
manner and jnirpose of a quotation may also affect its worth as a 
witness to an ancient reading:. 


It may often haj^pen that the external evidence is so conflicting, 
and yet so evenly balanced, that it is impossible from that source 
alone to form any judgment. In such cases we resort to internal 
or subjective considerations, which, in many instances, afford the 
means of forming a reasonable and reliable conclusion. But this 
kind of evidence and critical conjecture are generally to be used 
with the greatest caution, and only when the critic is obliged to 
resort to such means from want of better evidence, 

1. That reading which accords with a writer's peculiar style, 
with the context and the nature of the subject, and which makes 
a good sense, is to be preferred to one which lacks these internal 

This, as a general rule, must commend itself to every one's judg- 
ment. But particular applications of it may vary. There can be 
no reasonable doubt that the true reading in John xiii, 24, is rig 
kariv, who is it? The reading riq av eit], who mhjht it bef though 
sustained by several ancient authorities, is especially to be rejected 
because John never uses the optative mood. The placing of k^eX- 
■BovTsg after avrov in the textus receptus of Matt, xii, 1 4, is most 
probably an error of some ancient copyist, and the reading e^eX- 
■dovreg de ol ^aptaaioi QVfi(iovXiov eXaftov nar' avrov (supported by 
N, B, C, and D, and adopted by Lachmann, Tisehendorf, Westcott 
and Ilort), is to be preferred because in similar constructions 


Matthew uniformly places the participle before its noun. Com- 
pare i, 24; ii, 3; iv, 12; viii, 10, 14, 18; ix, 4, 8, 9, 11, 19; xii, 25. 

2. The shorter reading is to be preferred to the longei*. 
Transcribers were much more prone to add than to omit, and in 

the obscurer passages their tendency was to incorporate marginal 
glosses into the text, or even to venture upon an explanation of 
their own. The words jj^tj Kara odpKa TrepiTTarovotv, dXXd Kara rrvevna, 
who icalk not according to flesh, but according to Spirit, in the textiis 
receptus of Rom. viii, 1, are wanting in most of the ancient authori- 
ties, and are doubtless an ancient gloss introduced from verse 4 of 
the same chapter, where they appear in their true connection. So, 
too, the words, " Verily I say unto you, it shall be more tolerable 
for Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city," 
found in the Alexandrian Codex at Mark vi, 11, was probably 
added by some ancient scribe from memory of Matt, x, 15, where 
the reading is " land of Sodom and Gomorrah." According to this 
rule, when the evidences in favour of the insertion or omission of a 
word, clause, or sentence are about equally divided, it is safer to 
omit than to insert. 

3. The more difficult and obscure reading is to be preferred to 
the plainer and easier one. 

This rule of course applies especially to those passages where 
there is reason to believe the transcriber was tempted to soften or 
simplify the language, or explain an apparent difficulty. The word 
sXeTjfioavvi], alms, was anciently substituted for the harsher Hebra- 
istic word 6iKaioavvi], righteousness, in Matt. \\, 1. The insertion 
of the word eIkt], irif/iout cause, in Matt, v, 22, seems, in view of 
the strong external evidence against it, to have been introduced to 
soften the sentiment. Alford puts it in brackets, and says: "I 
have not ventured Avholly to exclude it, the authorities being so 
divided, and internal evidence being equally indecisive. Griesbach 
and Meyer hold it to liave been expunged from motives of moral 
rigourism; De Wetto, to have been inserted to soften the apparent 
rigour of the precept. The latter seems to me the more probable." 
Lachmann, Tischendorf, Westcott and ITort omit the word, and 
Tregelles marks it as extremely doubtful. 

Under this head we would also place the well-known rule of 
Griesbach: "That reading is to be preferred which presents a sen- 
timent apparently false, but which upon more careful examination 
is found to be true." ' A notable example is seen in 1 Cor. xi, 29, 

'Prreferatur aliis lectis, cui sensus subest apparentor quidem falsus, qui vero re 
penitius exaiiiiiiata vcrus esse dcprchcnditur. Griesbach, Novum Tostairieiitum(Jraece 
(2 vols., London, 1809), vol. i, Prolegonieua, p. Ixvi. 


where the majority of ancient authorities have inserted the word 
dva^iwg, unworthily, which appears in verse 27 in all copies. Fonr 
of the most important uncial manuscripts, however (A, B, CJ N^), and 
several cursives and versions omit the word. Its insertion from 
verse 27 appears to have arisen from misapprehending the exact 
force of Hi] in the clause ju^ 6iaKpiv(ov to acbjia, which is here equiva- 
lent to lohen not, or if not, and therefore different from the strong- 
er and more simple negative ov. The apparently unqualified state- 
ment: "lie that eats and drinks, eats and drinks judgment unto 
himself," seemed to convey a false statement, and to remove the 
difficulty dva^LO)g was inserted. The whole passage becomes clear 
by a correct rendering of the qualifying clause, if 7iot discerning 
the hodi/. More difficult is it to decide between the two readings 
Trpwrof and voregog, in Matt, xxi, 31 ; Ttpwrof is sustained by the 
greatest number of ancient authorities, and is suited to the context. 
But voregog is found in two of the most important manuscripts 
(B and D), and is the more difficult reading. It is easier to see 
how TrpwTOf may have become substituted for varegog than the re- 
verse. Hence Lachmann, Tregelles, Westcott and Hort adopt the 
reading voregog; but Tischendorf and Alford read vrpwrof. From 
this last example it will be seen what great caution is necessary in 
the application of this rule, and also how a final decision may not 
be possible in the case.' 

Under this canon it may also be added that, in parallel passages, 
verbal differences are generally considered preferable to exact ver- 
bal conformity, inasmuch as transcribers are apt to harmonize such 
difTerences where they attract attention. 

4. That reading is to be preferred from which all the others 
may be seen to have been naturally or readily derived. 

" That is to say," says Gardiner, " when there are different read- 
ings which have each of them important evidence in its favour, the 
one from which the others could have been easily derived is more 
likely to be true than one from which they could not have been." '^ 
Under this rule it is claimed that og is the genuine reading in the 

' "When no certainty is attainable," says Tregelles, "it will be well for the case to 
be left as doubtful. ... A critical text of the Greek New Testament, with no indica- 
tions of doubt, or of the inequality of the evidence, is never satisfactory to a scholar. 
It gives no impression of the ability of the editor to discriminate accurately as to the 
value of evidence ; and it seems to place on a level, as to authority, readings which 
are unquestionably certain, and those which have been accepted as perhaps the beat 
attested." — Home, Introduction (Ed. Ayre and Tregelles), vol. iv, p. 344. 

" The Principles of Textual Criticism, with a List of all the Known Greek Uncials, 
in Bibliotheca Sacra for April, 1875. Also published as an Appendix to the Greek 
Hanpony of the Four Gospels by the same author. 


much-disputed text of 1 Tim. iii, 16. For a long time the Alexan- 
drian and Epliraem Syrus manuscripts (A and C) were said to giA'e 
the reading deog (written in uncials 90), but recent and thor- 
ough examination by the most competent ci'itics has discovered that 
the transverse line in the 9, and the sign of contraction, are the 
work of a later hand. The Codex Sinaiticus has been tampered 
with in this place by several later hands; the latest of all, accord- 
ing to Tischendorf, altei'ed the manuscript about the twelfth cen- 
tury, but so carefully as not to deface the more ancient reading. 
The Clermont manuscript (D), as is now conceded, originally read 
S, but a later hand changed the readmg to 90. This change was 
done by erasing enough of the O to leave O, and then, as this letter 
stood at the beginning of the line, O was easily placed before it. 
The reading o may have arisen in the attempt of an ancient scribe 
to correct what seemed to be a grammatical inaccuracy, and write 
the relative o to conform with the gender of \ivgt7)()lov. Or, a Lat- 
in scribe may have so corrected the reading as to make it conform 
to quod^ which appears as the reading of the old Latin version. If 
we suppose the original reading to have been 00, it is difHcult to 
explain how the readings 00 and O should appear in the most an- 
cient manuscripts; but, as shown above, it is not difficult to show 
how the word 00 may have been changed into 00 or O.^ 

lie Avho carefully studies and applies the above rules of textual 
These canons Criticism will observe that they are principles rather 
rrtiieTThan *^^^'^ rules. They must not be applied mechanically, as 
rules. if mere majorities of witnesses decided any thing. A 

great number and variety of considerations must enter into the 
formation of a sound critical judgment, and every element of evi- 
dence must be carefully weighed. "The point aimed at," says 
Tregelles, " is a moral certainty, or a moral ])robability. To arrive 
at this we must use the evidence that is attainable; the truest prin- 
ciples must be borne in mind which teach the proper estimation of 
such evidence; and also the judgment must be exercised, so as to 
be accustomed to draw the moral conclusions applicable to the sub- 
ject. It is thus that some critics possess that critical tact by 
whicli they have been distinguished; they form a sound conclusion 
without apparently going through any elaborate process of reason- 
ing. And this leads others to imagine that criticism is a kind of 
intuitive faculty, although the conclusions have really resulted 
from quickness in perceiving what the evidence is, and a well-exer- 
cised judgment in applying known principles to the evidence so 

' See an extensive and careful examination of the various readings of 1 Tim. iii, 10, 
in the Bil)liothcca Sacra for January, 1865, pp. 1-50. 


apprehended." And the same consummate critic adds, in another 
place: "He who rightly studies the principles and facts of the 
textual criticism of the New Testament, will find that he has ac- 
quired information not on one subject merely, hut also on almost 
all of those that relate to the transmission of Scripture from the 
days of the apostles; he will have obtained that kind of instructum 
which will impart both a breadth and a definiteness to all his bibli- 
cal studies; he will be led into a kind of unconscious connection 
with the writers of Scripture and their works." ' 



Our appreciation of the Holy Scriptures will necessarily be influ- 
enced by our views of their claims as divinely inspired. Critical 
and ex^getical study will be more or less serious and painstaking 
as the student feels a deep conviction that he is handling the very 
word of God. 

There is an inspiration in all great works of genius. Those mas- 
terpie(!es of oratory, which, burning from the impas- inspiration ot 
sioned souls of Demosthenes and Cicero, aroused Atlie- g*'""''^- 
nian and Roman audiences, are to this day full of moving power. 
The poems of Homer and the oracles of Socrates reveal the inspi- 
ration of genius. Passages in Shakspeare, Milton, and Byron ex- 
hibit a power of expression and a perfection of form Avhich m ill 
ever charm the minds of men. AVho will deny Toplady's " Rock 
of Ages " and Charles Wesley's " Wrestling Jacob " a notable de- 
gree of divine inspiration ? But the great body of believers in the 
Holy Scriptures have ever felt that the inspiration of the Bible is 
something far higher and more divine than the rapture of human 

The inspiration of genius is from within, that of the Holy Spirit 
from without. The one is becrotten of the human soul, „ . 

® Scripture m- 

the other is by revelation from the supernatural and spiration high- 
divine. The biblical writers themselves assume to write ^^' 
by a supernatural authority; they speak as men who have seen the 
visions of the Almighty, have heard the voice of the rcA^ealer of 
secrets, and are moved by the power of the Holy Spirit. It may 

' S. P. Tregelles, Introduction to the Textual Criticism and Study of the New Testa- 
ment, in Home's Introduction (ed. Ayre and Tregelles), vol. iv, pp. 343, 401. 


be safely asserted that, in some sense, the sacred writers were used 
mechanically; they were often employed as the media of words 
and symbols which they could not comprehend. They were in- 
spired dynamically, for they were actuated by a supernatural force 
and wisdom which supervised their work, and directed them so as 
to secure the very purpose of the Almighty. In their inspiration 
there was a verbal element, for God is represented as speaking by 
*•' the mouth of all his prophets." " Behold," he says to .Jeremiah 
(i, 9), " I have put my words in thy mouth," Paul clahiis to set 
forth the saving truth of God " not in words taught by human wis- 
dom, but in those taught by the Spirit " (1 Cor. ii, 13). Every d*- 
vout Christian will acknowledge that this inspiration was plenary, 
inasmuch as it has furnished in all-sufficient fulness a revelation of 
the mind and will of God. But when we attempt to say where the 
divine element in Scripture ends, or where the human begins, we 
involve ourselves in mysteries which no man is able to solve. 

According tq the evangelical faith, maintained by the Christian 

^. . ,. Church in all ages, there exist in the sacred records 
Divme and nu- . . 

man in the two elements, a divine and a human. In this respect 
cnp ures. there is a noteworthy analogy, between the personal, in- 
carnate word, and the written Avord. As, in studying tlie person and 
character of Christ, we most naturally begin with the human side, 
observing that which is tangible to sense, so it will be well for us 
to examine, first, the human lineaments of the written word of God. 
It is evident that a considerable portion of the Bible is a narra- 
Human eie- tive of facts which any ordinary mind might have gath- 
ment seen m gj.g^| ^^^^ p^^^ jj^ Written form. Such, for example, is 

the narration of , ^ , ' _ ^ ' 

facts. the history of the rise, power, glory, decline, and fall of 

the kingdom of Israel, as contained in the Books of Samuel, Kings, 
and Chronicles. Many parts of these books appear to have been 
compiled directly from pre-existing documents.' The Book of Ne- 
hemiah is an autobiography, and "that of Esther a lively sketch of 
court-life in the Persian Empire. In the preface to his gospel, 
Luke professes to set forth an orderly arrangement of facts fully 
believed among the earliest Christians, reported by eye-witnesses, 
and accurately traced by himself from the very first. The Acts of 
the Apostles, by the same author, is a simple narrative of the be- 
ginnings of the Christian Church. In these books especially, but 
in others also, there appears no necessity or occasion for claiming 
an extraordinary assistance for the writers. INIany a writer, for 
whom no such claim was ever made, has traced and recorded facts 

' Compare 1 Kings xi, 41; xiv, 29; xv, 31; 1 Chron. xxix, 29; 2 Cbron. xxxii, 
82, etc. 


in human history with a painstaking care and accuracy as great as 
the biblical narratives evince. 

The human element is also noticeable in the style and diction of 
the sacred writers. No one can fail to observe how „ 

• If T •1-nri Seen also in 

Widely Isaiah diiiers m style from Jeremiah, Matthew style and dic- 
from John, and Paul from James. The distinct indi- ^'"°" 
viduality of each author is conspicuous, and there is no reason to 
suppose that any of these writers were hindered in the freest exer- 
cise of their natural faculties, or in the normal use of their peculiar 
modes of thought and expression. We should explain the marked 
difference of style in the prayers of Daniel (chap, ix, 4-19) and 
Habakkuk (chap, iii), the song of Moses (Exod. xv, 1-19), and the 
3IagniJicat of Mary (Luke i, 46-55), as we explain the differencas 
between Milton's " Hymn of the Nativity " and Pope's " Messiah," 
or between an exquisite passage of Addison and an oration of 
Daniel Webster. 

Other human lineaments are observable in the subject-matter, 
where expression is given to the writer's personal affec- seeninsubject- 
tion for individuals, or to his sense of want and weak- matter, 
ness. The whole catalogue of personal greetings in the sixteenth 
chapiter of Romans is an illustration of this; also the tender famil- 
iarity of Panl with his Thessalonian converts, and the personal 
reminiscences of his first acquaintance (ii, 1), his departure (ii, 17, 
18), and his being ''left in Athens alone" (iii, 1). The human ele- 
ment is conspicuous in his defence of his apostleship in the first two 
chapters of Galatians, in his remembrance of the Philippians' kind- 
ness (Phil, iv, 15-18), in his messages to the Ephesians by Tychi- 
eus (Eph. vi, 21), and his desire for the books, parchments, and 
cloak left at Troas (2 Tim. iv, 13). He exhibits, also, some doubt 
and hesitation as to whether, at Corinth, he baptized any others 
besides Crispus, Gaius, and the household of Stephanas (1 Cor. i, 
14, 16), and in his Second Epistle to the Corinthians he writes: "In 
lack of wisdom I speak" (2 Cor. xi, 21); "as one beside himself I 
say it " (ver. 23) ; " I am become a fool; ye compelled me " (xii, ] 1). 

To the above instances we may also add the varying forms of 
statement under which the same things is reported to us _ 
by different writers. Observe the numerous verbal forms of siate- 
differences in the parable of the soAver as reported by "^^" ' 
Matthew (xiii, 4-9), Mark (iv, 3-9), and Luke (viii, 5-8); or in the 
parable of the mustard seed (Matt, xiii, 31, 32; Mark iv, 30-32 ; Luke 
xiii, IS, 19), and in numerous other sayings of our Lord. Coni2)are, 
especially, the diff'erent forms of the Lord's Prayer (Matt, vi, 9-13; 
Luke xi, 2-4), and of the language used in instituting the Lord's Sup- 


per (Matt, xxvi, 26-29; Mark xiv, 22-24; Luke xxii, 19, 20; 1 Cor. xi, 
23-25). The only rational and truly satisfactory way of explaining:; 
such verl)al discrepancies is to hold (what seems so apparent and 
natural) that the writers freely reported, each in his own indepen- 
dent way, the substance of what the Lord had said. The Lord had 
probably spoken in Aramaic, but his words are reported in Greek. 
So, perhaps, no one of the evangelists has given us the exact form 
of the title on the cross; but each one records its substance and 
purport in a different form of words (Matt, xxvii, 37; Mark xv, 26; 
Luke xxiii, 38; John xix, 19). In all these varying reports tliere 
is no error, no real discrepancy; but simply that variety of human 
expression which is common to all the languages of men. 

But, along with the human element in the Scriptures, there are 
Evidences of ^^^'^ ^^6 claim and the evidence of a divine inspiration, 
divine element. Paul says: "All Scripture is God-breathed" {-^eo-- 
vevorog, 2 Tim. iii, 16), and Peter writes: "For not by the will of 
man was prophecy ever brought, but, borne along by the Holy 
Spirit, men spoke from God" (2 Peter i, 21). Here is a most im- 
portant assertion. He declares in the verse preceding that "no 
prophecy of Scripture comes of its own interpretation," or springs 
out of the human understanding.' The Scripture jirophocies are 
no products of human invention or ingenuity, for the men who 
Peter's deciar- wrote them " spoke from God," as they were impelled 
^'■^"'^* or carried along {(pegofxevoi) by the divine power. In 

his "first epistle the same apostle tells how the prophets diligently 
sought and searched (e^ei^^Trjaav teal e^7]Qavvrj<7av) concerning salva- 
tion, "searching into what time or what manner of time the Spirit 
of Christ in them was signifying Avhen he testified beforehand the 
sufferings pertaining to Christ and the glories after them; to whom 
it was revealed that not to themselves, but to you they were minis- 
tering that whicii is now announced to you through those who 
preached you the gospel by tlie Holy Spirit sent from heaven" 
(1 Peter i, 11, 12). We should observe the following four things 
here atHrmed: (1) the prophets were actuated by the Spirit of 
Christ; (2) they did not fully comprehend the time-limits of their 
own oracles; (3) they were given to understand that their words 
would minister help to after times; (4) the first preachers of the 

'The reference is, as Lumby observes, "to prophecy as it was uttered by those 
who first gave it forth. It did not arise from the private interpretation of the proph- 
ets. The words of the prophets of old were no mere human exposition, no endeav- 
our on man's part to point to a solution of the difficulties which beset men's minds 
in (Ids life. The prophets were moved by a Spirit beyond themselves, and spake 
things deeper than they themselves understood." — tJpeaker's Commentary in loco. 


gospel were also actuated by the same Holy Spirit, and their mes- 
sages had heavenly origin and authority. 

The Old Testament abounds in assertions of the divine origin of 
its lessons and revelations. A large proportion of the o](j Testament 
Pentateuch is professedly Jehovah's revelation of him- claims, 
self to the patriarchs, or his express word of commandment to 
Moses and to Israel. The Decalogue is said to have been uttered 
by God's own voice out of the midst of his theophany of fire and 
cloud on Horeb (Exod. xix, 9; xx, I, 19; Deut. v, 4, 22), and after- 
ward written by " the finger of God," and delivered to Moses on 
tablets of stone (Exod. xxxi, 18). The prophets continually an- 
nounce their messages as the word of Jehovah, and make frequent 
use of the formulas, " Hear the word of Jehovah," and " Thus saith 
Jehovah." Jesus recognized this same divine inspiration and au- 
thority in the Psalms; it was David speaking "in the 
Spirit" (Matt, xxii, 43). And when he sent forth his 
disciples, and foretold their persecutions, he comforted them with 
these words: "When they deliver you up, take no thought how or 
what ye shall speak; for it shall be given you in that hour what ye 
shall speak. For it is not ye that speak, but the spirit of your Fa- 
ther that speaks in you" (Matt, x, 19, 20). If such divine power 
directed these founders of Christianity when they spoke before 
their enemies, much more may we believe that the Scriptures writ- 
ten by them were inspired by God. For they had also the prom- 
ise: "The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send 
in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remem- 
brance all things which I said to you." " He will guide you into 
all the truth; for he will not speak from himself, but whatever he 
hears he will speak, and he will tell yon the things to come. He 
will glorify me; because he will receive of mine, and will tell you. 
All things whatever the Father has are mine; therefore I said that 
of mine he receives, and will tell you" (John xiv, 26; xvi, 13-15). 
How they subsequently rememhered the Lord's words is told in 
Luke xxiv, 8; John ii, 22; xii, 16; and Acts xi, 16; and the author- 
ity with which they spoke may be seen in Paul's words to the 
Thessalonians: " When ye received the word of God heard from 
us, ye received not the word of men, but, as it is in truth, the word 
of God" (1 Thess. ii, 13). 

In citing these declarations of the Scriptures, we assume, of 
course, the divine origin of Christianity, and the au- 

1 •• 1 ipT ,.1^ Credibility of 

thenticity and truthfulness of the Old and New Testa- the scriptu.ns 
ments. Our argument is not with the unbeliever and J^^re assuuied. 
the sceptic, but with those who accept both Testaments as in some 


sense the word of God; and our inquiry is concerned merely with 
the nature and extent of their inspiration. This question must not 
be judged and decided a priori. We need to look at facts of the 
history, contents, and scope of the several parts, as well as ex- 
plicit declarations, of the Bible. "SViili these constantly in mind, 
and disregarding all special theories, we may be helped by the fol- 
lowing considerations : 

I. God, from the beginning, planned to furnish for mankind such 
a written testimony of his works, judgments, and will, as Avould 
always be " profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for 
instruction in righteousness." The grand purpose of all is, " that 
the man of God may be perfect, thorouglily furnished unto all 

^ , ^. srood works" (2 Tim. iii, 10, 17). To fill out such a 
The whole Bi- » ^ . . m 

bio God's book plan and purpose required thousands of years. The 

for man. record was to embody a revelation of the creation of 

man, and of God's gracious dealings and righteous judgments 
through the lapse of ages. It was to be a record of prophecy and 
its fulfihnent, of miracle, and promise, and comfort. Truth and 
righteousness were to be exhibited in the concrete by an ample 
record of the experiences of holy men. Accordingly God spoke in 
many parts and in many ways to the fathers by the prophets (lleb. 
i, 1), and, at last, by the incarnation and ministry of Jesus Christ, 
and by the apostles, completed the providential record of religious 
truth and enlightenment. Thus the Bible is pre-eminently God's 
book, a body of writings providentially prepared by divine wisdom 
for the relio^ious instruction of mankind. 

IL As regards the varied contents of this God-given book, it is 
Subject-matter ^^®^^' '^^^^'^ many recent writers/ to distinguish between 
revealed or In- revelation and inspiration. The subject-matter of many 
^^^^'^ ■ parts of the Scriptures is of such a character as to lie 

beyond the unaided powers of the human mind to discover. Such 
portions must have been communicated in some supernatural way, 
and were, therefore, from the nature of the case, a divine revela- 
tion. Inspiration, on the other hand, was the divine influence and 
supervision under which the sacred writers made a record of Avhat 
came to their knowledge either by revelation or otherwise. " Rev- 
elation and inspiration," says Lee, " are to be distinguished by the 
sources from which they proceed, revelation being the peculiar 
function of the eternal Word; inspiration the result of the agency 

' See, especially, Lee, on the Inspiration of Holy Scripture, Lectures i, iv, ami v, 
and E. P. Barrow's articles on Revelation and Inspiration, in the Bibliotheca Sacra 
for Oct., 1867, April, 1808, Jan. and July, 1869, Jan., July, and Oct., 1870, Oct., 1871, 
Jan., July, and Oct., 1872, and April, 1873. 


of the Holy Spirit. Tlieir difference is specific, and not merely one 
of degree, a point which is amply confirmed by the consideration 
that either of these divine influences may be exerted without call- 
ing the other into action. The patriarchs received revelations, 
but they were not inspired to record them; the writer of the Acts 
of the Apostles Avas inspired for his task, but we are not told that 
he ever enjoyed a revelation." ' 

It is easy to see that the narrative of creation could have been 
furnished only in some supernatural way, for no human eye ob- 
served it. The visions and dreams of patriarchs and prophets were 
modes of receiving divine communications (Num. xii, 6). Balaam 
was so controlled by a supernatural force that he could ntter no 
word or vt^ill of his own (Num. xxii, 38; xxiii, 26; xxiv, 13). The 
ten commandments were uttered by the voice (Exod. xx, 1, 19) and 
written by the finger of God (Exod. xxxi, ] 8). Large portions of 
the prophecies are expressly declared to be Jehovah's oracles, and 
foretell the things to come. The words of the Lord Jesus must be 
accepted by every devout Christian as of absolute authority. But, 
on the other hand, as we have shown above, large portions of the 
Scripture are records of matters which the writers could have ascer- 
tained withoiit supernatural aid. Yet we are told that all scrip- 
ture is inspired by God. The final question, then, is reduced to 
the nature and degree of the inspiration. 

. HI. On this point we affirm the proposition, that a particular 
divine providence secured the composition of the Scrip- inspiration a 

tures in the language and form in which we possess p^''''^''^"''^'' <^i- 
'^ ^ , , ^ vine provi- 

them. Moses at the beginning of the sacred volume, dence. 
and John at its close, were commanded to avrite. The divine 
revelations of which we have spoken would have been compara- 
tively useless unless divine Providence had secured an accurate 
and faithful record of them to be transmitted through the ages. 
For the preparation of such a record holy men were inspired of 
God. Many revelations may have been given which are not re- 
corded, as well as many facts and experiences which would have 
been profitable for religious instruction. But the Divine Wisdom 
guided the human agents in selecting such facts and reporting such 
truths as would best accomplish the purpose of God in providing a 
written revelation for the world. We see no good reason for deny- 
ing that the divine guidance extended to all parts and forms of the 
record. God secured the composition of the Pentateuch in just the 
form and style in which we have it. He secured the writing of the 
Book of Job for the great religious lessons it embodies. Half of it 

' luspiration of Holy Scripture, Lecture i, p. 42. 


may be composed of tlie erroneous notions of self-conceited and 
mistaken men; but it must be studied as a wbole, and its several 
parts, as bearing on the one great problem of human suifering, 
will then appear as a most beautiful and impressive form of setting 
forth certain lessons of divine providence and judgment. Tlie 
genealogies of Chronicles, Ezra, and other books, are similarly, 
parts of a whole, and links in the history of Israel. So the histor- 
ical books, the Prophets, the Psalms, the Gospels, and the Epistles 
subserve a manifold divine purpose. God has provided that these 
books, and no others, should be written and preserved through the 
ages as divinely authoritative for instruction in righteousness, and 
to this end he called, actuated, energized, and supervised the holy 
men Avho wrote them. 

The notion that the Almighty Spirit absolutely controlled the 
Divine inspi- sacred writers, so as to select for them the very words 

ration affects ^^ employed, is repugnant to the thoughtful mind. 

language and j i J y i » ^ 

style. There is no evidence, withm or without the record, of 

any such mechanical operation. But Ave conceive that the language 
and style of a writer may be mightily aifected by divine influences 
brought to bear upon his soul. Such influences would produce im- 
portant effects in his thoughts and his words. To aflirm, Avith 
some, that God supplied the thoughts or ideas of Scripture, but left 
the writers perfectly free in their choice of Avords, jtends to con- 
fuse the subject, for it appears that the inspired penmen were as 
free and independent in searching for facts and arranging them in 
orderly narrative as they were in the choice of AVords. (Luke i, 3.) 
It seems better, therefore, to understand that, by the inspiring im- 
pulse from God, all the faculties of the human agent Avere mightily 
quickened, and, as a consequence, his thoughts, his emotions, his 
style, and even his words, Avere affected. In this sense only Ave 
affirm the doctrine of verbal inspiration. We have seen above,' 
that for)n and style are often essential elements of an organic whole, 
and to attempt to give the sentiment, Avithout the form, of some 
compositions, is to rob them of their very substance and lile.^ 

* See on pages 92-94. 

2 Tayler Lewis remarks that "the very words, the very figures outwardly used, yea, 
the etymological metaphors contained in the words, be they ever so interior, are all m- 
spired. Tlu'v arc nf)t merely goncrul effects, in whieli sense all humai: utterances, and 
even all physical manifestations, may be said to be inspired, but the specially designed 
products of emotions supernaturally inbreathed, tliese becoming outward in thnnghts, 
and these, again, having their ultimate outward forms in iiwrch and fr/urcs as truly 
designed in the workings of this chain, and thus as truly inspired, as the thoughts of 
which these words are the express image, and the inspired emotions in which both 
thoughts and images luid their birth." And yet he repudiates "that extreme view of 


Four different kinds or degrees of inspiration are thus specified 
by an English author : " By the inspiration of suqaes- 

. . 1 . . S- 1 TT , ^ . ■ ^O"'" degrees 

tion IS meant such communications or the Holy Spirit of inspiration 
as suggested and dictated every part of the trutlis dt^- ^"S'^'^ted. 
livered. The inspiration of direction is meant of such assistance as 
left the writers to describe the matter revealed in their own way, 
directing only the mind in the exercise of its powers. The inspira- 
tion of elevation added a greater strength and vigour to the efforts 
of the mind than the writers could have otherwise attained. The 
inspiration of super intendency was that watchful care which pre- 
served generally from any thing being put down derogatory to the 
revelation with which it was connected.'" But, if God directly 
suggests, directs, elevates, and superintends in any or all of these 
ways, how can we consistently maintain that he was concerned 
merely with the substance and not the form? Is it unworthy of 
the God who observes the fall of every sparrow, and numbers all 
the hairs of our heads (Matt, x, 29, 30), to care for the words and 
forms in which his oracles are given to the world? 

But while the particular words and style are essential elements 
of some parts of Scripture, it should be observed Facts may be 
that there are many facts and ideas which may be ex- ^'^P^f^'^f ^^ ^ 

•' -^ variety of words 

pressed m a variety of forms. Thus, Jesus might have and forms. 
said: "A certain man, in going from Jerusalem to Jericho, fell 
among thieves;" or, "There was a man who went on a journey 
from Jerusalem down to Jericho-, and robbers fell upon him by the 
way;" or, "In passing from Jerusalem down to Jericho a certain 
traveller was assaulted by a band of robbers." We might thus 
vary the form and words of the statement in a score of ways, and 
yet preserve substantially the same idea. But even ih such matters 
of little or no apparent moment, why deny that the sui^ervising 
Spirit aided in the selection of the particular language used by the 
sacred writers? 

It is possible to make some of the grandest truths appear ludi- 
crous by resolving them, through an artful analysis, ^ „ . 

•'. »„. . . Fallacious trl- 

into a multitude of frivolous details. It might be fling with de- 
asked. Did the Almighty and Eternal God move the ^^^^^' 
muscles of Matthew's arm and fingers, cause his heart to beat with 

verbal inspiration v*fhich regards the sacred penmen as mere amanuenses, writing 
words and painting figures dictated to them by a power and an intelligence acting in a 
manner wholly extraneous to the laws of their own spirits, except so far as those laws 
are merely physical or mechanical." The Divine Human in the Scriptures, pp. 27-30. 
' Bishop Daniel Wilson, on The Evidences of Christianity, vol. i, p. 508. Lond., 


emotion, and his eyes to glow, as he took up his pen and scratched 
upon the parchment before him? Did he move him to spell /lavtd, 
or Aafild; to write ovro, or ovru)g; elfre, or etTrev; 6td rl, or didri', 
el ye, or ei'ye.^ Did he furnish him with black ink or red ink, pa- 
pyrus or parchment, a writing desk or the floor of a room? We 
may thus trifle also with the minutiae of divine Providence, but, 
after all our quibbling, we must either admit that the omniscient 
Spirit was cognizant of all these details, or else say what particular 
things escaped his oversight and care. The argument which main- 
tains the inspiration of the thoughts, but not the words, of Scrip- 
ture, logically denies any particular providence in the form and 
style of God's written word, and leaves the whole subject vague 
and visionary. 

I'he opinion that divine inspiration is incompatible with the free 
action and varied style of the sacred writers seems to grow out of a 
false psychology. Amid the complex sensations, jserceptions and ac- 
tivities of the human soul there is room for the normal action of both 
divine and human forces. The intellect and the affections may be 
thoroughly subject to supernatural power, while the will remains free 
in its self-conscious action. The divine inspiration of the sacred 
writers no more interfered, necessarily, with their jDcrsonal free- 
dom than the calling and anointing of Cyrus (Isa. xlv, i) interfered 
No conflict be- with the conscious freedom and action of that mon- 
v7ne"anf iful ^^'^^^- ^^oscs and Paul wrote with as much freedom 
man. as Cffisar and Bacon; but Moses and Paul were, in a 

high and holy sense, chosen ministers to write a portion of the 
Bible, and that holy calling and work put them in a position as 
superior to Cffisar, and Bacon, as the Pentateuch and the Epistles 
are superior tO the Gallic Wars and the Novum Organum. The 
wisdom and power of God secured, without any violation of indi- 
vidual freedom, the writing of the Holy Scriptures in their orig- 
inal form, and preserved the writers from vital error. So the 
Eternal Word was made flesh (John i, 14), but the divine nature 
in the person of Christ did not set aside or nullify the perfect 
human nature and freedom of the man Christ Jesus. This union 
of the divine and human, whether in the incarnate word or in 
the written word, is a great mystery, which no human mind can 
fathom or explain. But as regards the inspiration of prophets 
and apostles, we may aftirm with Delitzsch: "The divine thoughts 
take their way to the Ego of the prophet through his nature. 
They clothe themselves in popular human language, according to 
the prophet's individual manner of thinking and speaking, and 
they present themselves in a form manifoldly limited, according 


to the existing circumstances and the horizon of contemporary 

" It is inadmissible," lie adds, " to distinguish between real and 
verbal inspiration [insjnratio realis et verbaUs). Sub- dch tzsch's 
stance and form are both the effect of one divine act. '^s^- 
As the soul came into existence when God breathed the spirit into 
man, so come into existence words of divine nature and human 
form when God breathes thoughts into man. . . . The act of inspir- 
ation should, and must, be represented as an organic vital inter- 
working of the divine and human factor, without thereby jeopard- 
izing the infallibility of the revealed truth written in the Scripture, 
and the faithfulness of the fundamental history of redemption con- 
tained therein for all times. . . . Scripture is no book fallen from 
heaven; its origination is just as much human as divine. He who 
is offended at this sins against the Holy Spirit, whose condescension 
into humanity (by no means Docetic) he ought rather to admire 
and praise." ' 

The fact that , different writers vary in recording what piirports 
to be particular sayings is often urged as an argument verbal vana- 
against divine inspiration. The words of Jesus at the tions not a vai- 
Last SujDper, and the title on the cross, are cited as against^ divine 
examples. But under all this argument is the tacit inspiration, 
assumption that each of the writers is aiming to give the ipsissima 
verba, whereas, in fact, no one of them has given the original 
words. The ipsissima verba were Aramaic,'' not Greek; each 
New Testament writer furnishes his own free and independent 
version of them, and all report correctly the essential sentiment 
of our Lord. Who is competent to say that these very differ- 
ences were not desired and directed by the Almighty Spirit? Mat- 
thew was inspired to write the words, "Take; eat" (xxvi, 26); 
Mark to omit the word eat (xiv, 22) ; Luke to omit both these 
words, and write, " This is my body which for you is given " (xxii, 
19); and Paul to say, "This my body is, which is for you" (1 Cor. 
xi, 24). The denial of a divine purpose in these verbal differences 
seems to involve a distrust of a partictilar divine providence in the 
peculiar style and form of the Scriptures of God. If we are not 
able always to see a reason for such verbal differences, neither are 
we competent to say that there was, and could have been, no 
reason, and no care for them in the divine mind. 

' Biblical Psychology, part v, section 5. Comp. Elliott, A Treatise on the Inspira- 
tion of the Holy Scriptures, p. 257. Edinburgh, 1877. 

'■* The very words of our Lord are, doubtless, given in such instances as Talitha 
cumi (.Mark v, 41), Ephpliatha (vii, 34), liabboni (John xx, 16). 


The thousands of various readings in the ancient manuscripts, 
and the impossibility of decidinir, in all cases, what is the true 
Various read- oriijinal text, are construed into an argument against 
ings no valid yej-jjal inspiration. If God took pains to influence the 

argument ' ^ -, r 

against the ver- writers in the choice of words and forms of thought, 
of^ the''"orip^ "^^'^y ^^^ ^® ^^^ been careful to secure every word from 
nais. corruption and change ? This question, however, as- 

sumes that God may never create a thing without miraculously 
preserving it intact forever, a proposition which we see no good rea- 
son to affirm. It was probably no more necessary to preserve all 
the words ever given by inspiration of God than to record all the 
things which Jesus did (John xxi, 15); and we, therefore, deny 
that the existing various readings afford any valid evidence that 
the original autographs were not verbally inspired. We may add 
that the denial of verbal inspiration logically diminishes one's de- 
vout interest and zeal in the critical study of the Scriptures. It 
takes away notable motives for anxiety to ascertain the exact 
words of the original text, for if those words were. not divinely in- 
spired we would naturally attach less importance to them.' 

But the vast majority of readers of the Bible know nothing of 
the original texts, and are dependent upon a translation ; of what 
benefit, it is asked, is verbal inspiration to such readers? But is 
not every such dependent reader anxious to have the most faithful 
translation possible? Why such care? Why have hundreds of 
devout scholars combined to produce an accurate and trustworthy 
version for the English-speaking world ? Does it not all spring 
from a feeling that the original is divine, and the ultimate source 
of all appeal? How irrelevant and fallacious is it, then, to talk of 
versions? The question of inspiration is concerned solely with the 
original texts. Moreover, if there was a divine plan and purpose 
in having the Scriptures written in Hebrew, and Chaldee, and 
Greek,^ the divine providence would be likely to have cared for 
every jot and tittle of the same. 

As for alleged discrepancies, contradictions, and errors of the 

'"This theory," says Gilbert Haven, "cuts tlie nerves of minute study for the har- 
monizing of the Word. It is as fatal to sound scholarship as to sound doctrine. 
That scholars and tiioologians advocate it is no jiroof of its real effects. They bring 
with them to their investigation, not their theory, but the old, the divine feeling of 
its entire and perfect sacred ness. They worship at its shrine, they seek to know 
its full meaning, its intended and real, if hidden, harmony. They are orthodox in 
Bpite of their outer creed, by the inward culture of the soul in the elder and superior 
truth." Methodist Quarterly Review for 1867, p. 848. See also Haven's two subse- 
quent articles in the same Review for 1868. 

*See above, pp. 106, 128. 


Bible, we deny that any real errors can be shown.' But our doc- 
trine of divine inspiration is compatible with incorrect inaccurate 
spelling^, involved rhetoric, imperfect grammar, and in- grammar anrj 

, ^ , rni 1 1 • ^1 Obscurity Of 

elegant language. Ihe earthen vessels remain earth- style no vaiiu 
en though filled with divine treasure. Confusion objection. 
of thought and obscurity of statement are no valid argument 
against the inspiration of the Word. As some of God's purposes 
may sometimes be most effectually carried out by weak or igno- 
rant men, so the apparent defects, alleged of some portions of the 
Scriptures, may have been divinely permitted among the definite 
purposes of grace.* A prophecy oi- an epistle written " not with 
excellency of speech or of wisdom " — " not with persuasive words 
of man's wisdom " — may, nevertheless, contain a wisdom and excel- 
lence " not of this world, nor of the rulers of this world, who come 
to nought" (1 Cor. ii, 1, 4, 6). Faultless grammar and absolute 
accuracy of statement were not essential to the best mode of set- 
ting forth all the lessons of redemption. No more was it essential 
that the New Testament should be written in the classic elegance 
and purity of ancient Attic Greek.- The notion that divine inspii-a- 
tion is incompatible with obscurity of style and grammatical inac- 
curacy springs from an a ])rior% judgment that God must needs 
have given his infallible word in some absolutely perfect or super- 
natural form. But such a judgment has no foundation in nature or 
in grace. God gave not his word in the tongues of angels, but of 
men. " God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put 
the wise to shame; and God chose the weak things of the world that 
he might put to shame the things which are strong; and the base 
things of the world, and the things which are despised, did God 
choose, and the things which are not, that he might bring to 
nought things that are; that no flesh should glory before God" 
(1 Cor. i, 27-29). How futile, then, are all a priori human judg- 
ments of the form in which God's oracles should be cast ? 

In the seventh chapter of Acts we have the celebrated address of 
the proto-martyr Stephen. His face glowing like the gfgpjjgjj.g ad- 
face of an angel, and his impassioned soul full of the dress in Acts 
Holy Spirit, he utters a rapid sketch of Israelitish liis- 


' We devote a chapter, in the subsequent part of this work, to alleged discrepan- 
cies, and cannot enlarge upon them here. But comp. the article, Discrepancy and In- 
spiration not Incompatible, Journal of Sacred Literature for April, 1854, pp. 71-110. 

^ How often has the personal Christian experience of an illiterate convert, uttered 
in broken speech and stammering voice, but glowing with the ardour of deep convic- 
tions, proved more mighty to awaken sinful men, and lead them to repentance, than 
the most finished sermons of many an eloquent preacher ! 


torv. In verse 16 he speaks of the tomb at Shechem "which 
Abraham bought for a sum of money of the sons of Emmor, of 
Sliechem." Here is, apparently, a confusion of thought, but one 
which could do no possible harm, and did not hinder the speech 
from cutting the hearers to the heart (verse 54). It seems to us 
improbable that Stephen should have made such a blunder ; ' but 
there is no evidence that the text is corrupt; and who knows but 
the Holy Spirit allowed him in his fervid eloquence to fall into this 
confusion of facts in order to exhibit how irresistible plenary in- 
spiration is not conditioned "in the wisdom of men, but in the 
power of God" (1 Cor. ii, 5)? 

We have no room to discuss the manifold collateral questions 
connected with this theme, but have briefly presented the main 
points, which show both the divine and the Imman in the written 
Word. We adopt no technical theory, but indicate how all is di- 
vine, and all is human. For "all scriptuke is God-breathed." 
" Given by the divine mind," says Tayler Lewis, " these holy 
books must have in them a depth and fulness of meaning that the 
human intellect can never exhaust. If they are holy books, if they 
are Sacrce Scriptxiroi^ as even the neologist conventionally styles 
thrni, then can there be thrown away upon them no amount of 
study, provided that study is ever chastened by a sanctified, truth- 
loving spiint that rejoices more in the simplest teaching, and in 
the simplest method of teaching from God, than in the most lauded 
discoveries of any mere human science. Is it in truth the word 
of God — is it really God speaking to us? Then the feeling and 
the conclusion which it necessitates are no hyperboles. We can- 
not go too far in our reverence, or in our expectation of knowl- 
edge surpassing in kind, if not in extent. The wisdom of the 
earth, of the seas, of the treasures hidden in the rocks and all 
deep places of the subterranean world, or of the stars afar off, 
brings us not so nigh the central truth of the heavens, the very 
mind and thought of God, as one parable of Christ, or one of those 
grand prophetic figures through which the light of the infinite idea 
is converged, wliile, at the same time, its intensity is shaded for the 
tender human vision."" 

' It is not at all impossible that a purchase similar to that recorded of Jacob (Oen. 
xxxiii, r.i) IkkI l)oeii made long iircviously by Abrani when he tiist arrived at She- 
chem, and found the Canaanite already in that land (Gen. xii, 6). An aboriginal 
Hamor had probably already founded the city of Shechem, and was known as its fa- 
ther (fomp. .Tiidg. ix, 2S). 

^The Divine Human in the Scriptures, pp. 25, 26. 




In order to be a capable' and correct interpreter of the Holy 
Scriptures, one needs a variety of qualifications, both natural and 
acquired. For though a large proportion of the sacred volume is 
sufficiently simple for the child to understand, and the common 
people and the unlearned may find on every page much that is 
profitable for instruction in righteousness, there is also much that 
reqiiires, for its proper ajiprehension and exposition, the noblest 
powers of intellect and the most ample learning. The several 
qualifications of a competent interpreter may be classified as Intel- 
lectual, Educational, and Spiritual. The first are largely native to 
the soul ; the second are acquired by study and reseai'chj the third 
may be regarded both as native and acquired. 

Intellectual Qualifications. 

First of all, the interpreter of S<:'ripture, and, indeed, of any other 

book, should have a sound, well-balanced mind. For ^ , ^. 

' _ ' , Defective men- 

dulness of apprehension, defective judgment, and an tai powera dis- 
extravagant fancy will pervert one's reason, and i^^^^'^^- 
lead to many vain and foolish notions. The faculties of the mind 
are capable of discipline, and may be trained to a very high degree 
of perfection ; but some men inherit peculiar tendencies of intellect. 
Some are gifted with rare powers of imagination, but are utterly 
wanting in the critical faculty. A lifetime of discipline will scarce- 
ly restrain their exuberant fancy. Others are naturally given to 
form hasty judgments, and will rush to the wildest extremes. In 
others, peculiar tastes and passions warp the judgment, and some 
seem to be constitutionally destitute of common sense. Any and 
all such mental defects disqualify one for the interpretation of the 
word of God. 

A ready perception is specially requisite in the interpreter. He 
must have the power to grasp the thought of his au- Quick and clear 
thor, and take in at a glance its full force and bearing, perception. 
With such ready perception there must be united a breadth of view 
and clearness of understanding which will be quick to catch, not 
only the import of words and phrases, but also the drift of the 
' Comp. the import of Uavoi, iKavoTTj^, and iKuvucjev in 2 Cor. iii, 5, 6. 


argument. Thus, for example, in attempting to explain tlie Epistle 
to the Galatians, a quick perception will note the apologetic tone 
of the first two chapters, the bold earnestness of Paul in asserting 
the divine authority of his apostleship, and the far-reaching conse- 
quences of his claim. It will also note how forcibly the personal 
incidents referred to in Paul's life and ministry enter into his argu- 
ment. It will keenly appreciate the impassioned appeal to the 
" foolish Galatians " at the beginning of chapter third, and the nat- 
ural transition from thence to the doctrine of Justification. The 
variety of argument and illustration in the third and fourth chap- 
ters, and the hortatory application and practical counsels of the two 
concluding chapters will also be clearly discerned; and then the 
unity, scope, and directness of the whole Epistle will lie pictured 
before the mind's eye as a perfect whole, to be appreciated more 
and more fully as additional attention and study are given to min- 
uter details. 

The jxreat exegetes have been noted for acuteness of intellect, a 
Acuteness of critical sharpness to discern at once the connexion of 
Intellect. thought, and the association of ideas. This qualifica- 

tion is of great importance to every interpreter. He must be quick 
to see what a j^assage does not teach, as well as to comprehend its 
real import. His critical acumen should be associated with a mas- 
terly power of analysis, in order that he may clearly discern all the 
parts and relations of a given Avhole. Bengel and De Wette, in 
their works on the New Testament, excel in this particular. They 
evince an intellectual sagacity, which is to be regarded as a special 
gift, an inborn endowment, rather than a result of scientific culture. 

The strong intellect will not be destitute of imaginative power. 
Imagination Many things in narrative description must be left to be 
musfbe coll- f^iipplied, and many of the finest passages of Holy Writ 
trolled. cannot be appreciated by an unimaginative mind. The 

true interpreter must often transport himself into the past, and 
picture in his soul the scenes of ancient time. He must have an in- 
tuition of nature and of human life by which to put himself in the 
place of the biblical writers and see and feel as they did. But it 
has usually happened that men of powerful imagination have been 
unsafe expositors. An exuberant fancy is apt to run awav with 
the judgment, and introduce conjecture and speculation in place of 
valid exegesis. The chastened and disciplined imagination will as- 
sociate with itself the power of conception and of abstract thought, 
and be able to construct, if called for, working hypotheses to be 
used in illustraticm or in argument. Sometimes it may be expe- 
dient to form a concept, or adopt a theory, merely for the purpose 


of pursuing some special line of discussion ; and every expositor 
should be competent for this when needed. 

But, above all things, an interpreter of Scripture needs a sound 
and sober judgment. His mind must be competent to gQ^jgr judg- 
aiialyze, examine, and compare. Pie must not allow '^'^'i''- 
himself to be influenced by hidden meanings, and spiritualizing 
processes, and plausible conjectures. He must weigh reasons for 
and against a given interpretation; he must judge whether his 
principles are tenable and self-consistent; he must often balance 
probabilities, and reach conclusions with the greatest caution. Such 
a discriminating judgment may be trained and strengthened, and 
no pains should be spared to render it a safe and reliable habit of 
the mind. 

Correctness and delicacy of taste will- be the result of a discrimi- 
nating judgment. The interpreter of the inspired vol- correct and dei- 
urae will find tlie need of this qualification in discerning icatu taste. 
the manifold beauties and excellences scattered in rich profusion 
through its pages. But his taste, as well as his judgment, must be 
trained to discern between the true and the false ideals. Many a 
modern Avhim of shallow refinement is offended with the straiiiht- 
forward honesty and simplicity of the ancient world. Prurient 
sensitiveness often blushes before expressions in the Script uies 
which are as far as possible removed from impurity. Correct t;:sle 
in such cases will pronounce according to the real spirit of tl e 
writer and his age. 

The use of reason in the interpretation of Scripture is every- 
wliere to be assumed. The Bible comes to us in the 

UsG of rctisou. 

forms of human language, and appeals to our reason 
and judgment; it invites investigation, and condemns a blind cre- 
dulity. It is to be interpreted as we interpret any other volume, 
by a rigid application of the same laws of language, and the same 
grammatical analysis. Even in passages which may be said to lie 
beyond the ])i"Ovince of reason, in the realm of supernatural revela- 
tion, it is still competent for the rational judgment to say whether, 
indeed, the revelation be supernatural. In matters beyond its range 
of vision, reason may, by valid argument, explain its own incom- 
petency, and by analogy and manifold suggestion show that there 
are many things beyond its province which are nevertheless true 
and righteous altogether, and to be accepted without dispute. 
Reason itself may thus become efficient in strengthening faith in 
the unseen and eternal. 

But it behooves the expounder of God's word to see that all his 
principles and processes of reasoning are sound and self-consistent. 


He must not commit himself to false premises; he must ahstain 
from confusing dilemmas ; he must especially refrain from rushing 
to unwarranted conclusions. Nor must he ever take for granted 
things which are doubtful, or open to serious question. All such 
logical fallacies will necessarily vitiate his expositions, and make 
him a dangerous guide. The right use of reason in biblical exposi- 
tion is seen in the cautious procedure, the sound principles adopted, 
the valid and conclusive argumentation, the sober sense displayed, 
and the honest integrity and self-consistency everywhere main- 
tained. Such exercise of reason Mill always commend itself to the 
godly conscience and the pure heart. 

In addition to the above-mentioned qualifications, the interpreter 
should be "apt to teach" (diSaKTiKog, 2 Tim, ii, 24). 
p eac . jj^ niust not only be able to understand the Scriptures, 
but also to set forth in clear and lively form to others what he 
himself comprehends. Without such aptness in teaching, all his 
other gifts and qualities will avail little or nothing. Accordingly, 
the interpreter should cultivate a clear and simple style, and study 
to bring out the truth and force of the inspired oracles so that 
others will readily understand. 

Educational Qualifications. 

The professional interpreter of Scripture needs more than a well- 
balanced mind, discreet sense, and acuteness of intellect. He needs 
stores of information in the broad and varied fields of history, 
science, and philosophy. By many liberal studies will his faculties 
become disciplined and strong for practical use ; and extensive and 
accurate knowledge will furnish and fit him to be the teacher of 
others. The biblical interpreter should be minutely acquainted with 

the geography of Palestine and the adiacent retrions. 
Geography. , i \, i i i • .i • i •,, -. 

In order to be properly versed in this, he will need to 

understand the physical character of the world outside of Bible 

lands. For, though the sacred writers may have known nothing of 

countries foreign to Asia, Africa, and Europe, the modern student 

will find an advantage in having information, as full as possible, of 

the entire surface of the globe. With such geographical knowledge 

he should also unite a familiar acquaintance with uni- 


versal history. The records of many jjeoples, both an- 
cient and modern, will often be of value in testing the accuracy of 
the sacred Avriters, and illustrating their excellence and Morth. 
AVhat a vast amount of light have ancient authors, and the deci- 
phered inscriptions of Egypt, Assyria, Babylon, and Persia, shed 
upon the narratives of the Bible I 


The science of chronology is also indisjDensable to the proper in- 
terpretation of the Scriptures. The succession of events, 
the division of the ages into great eras, the scoj^e of gen- rono.ogy. 
ealogical tables, and the fixing of dates, are important, and call 
for patient study and laborious care. Nor can the interpreter dis- 
pense with the study of antiquities, the habits, customs, 
and arts of the ancients. He should inquire into the an- ^ '*^^^ ^^^* 
tiquities of all the ancient nations and races of whom any records 
remain, for the customs of other nations may often throw light 
upon those of the Hebrews. The study of politics, in- 
cluding international law and the various theories and 


systems of civil government, will add greatly to the other accom- 
plishments of the exegete, and enable him the better to appreciate 
the Mosaic legislation, and the great principles of civil government 
set forth in the New Testament. Many a passage, also, can be illus- 
trated and made more impressive by a thorough knowledge of natu- 
ral science. Geology, mineralogy, and astronomy, are Natural sci- 
incidentally touched by statements or allusions of the sa- ence. 
cred writers, and whatever the knowledge of the ancients on these 
subjects, the modern interpreter ought to be familiar with what 
modern science has demonstrated. The same may be said of the 

history and systems of speculative thought, the various 

. o ' Philosophy, 

schools of philosophy and psychology. Many of these 

philosophical discussions have become involved in theological dog- 
ma, and have led to peculiar principles and methods of interpreta- 
tion, and, to cope fairly with them, the professional exegete should 
be familiar with all their subtleties. We have already seen how 
all-important to the interpreter is a profound and accu- The sacred 
rate knowledge of the sacred tongues. No one can be a tongues, 
master in biblical exposition without such knowledge. To a thor- 
ough acquaintance with Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek, he should 
add some proficiency in the science of comparative phi- comparative 
lology. Especially will a knowledge of Syriac, Arabic, puiioiogy. 
and other Semitic languages help one to understand the Hebrew 
and the Chaldee, and acquaintance with Sanskrit and Latin and 
other Indo-European tongues will deepen and enlarge one's knowl- 
edge of the Greek. To all these acquirements the interpreter of 
God's word should add a familiar acquaintance with gen- Genera: lit- 
eral literature. The great productions of human genius, erature. 
the world-renowned epics, the classics of all the great nations, and 
the bibles of all religions, will be of value in estimating the oracles 
of God. 

It is not denied that there have been able and excellent exposi- 


tors who were wanting in many of these literary qualifications. 
But he who excels as a master can regai'd no literary attainments 
as superfluous; and, in maintaining and defending against scepti- 
cism and infidelity the faith once delivered to the saints, the 
Christian apologist and exegete will find all these qualifications in- 

Spiritual Qualifications. 

Intellectual qualities, though capable of development and disci- 
Partiy a gift, pline, are to be regarded as natural endowments; edu- 
partiy acquired, cational or literary acquirements are to be had only by 
diligent and faithful study; but those qualifications of an inter- 
preter which we call spiritual are to be regarded as partly a gift, 
and partly acquired by personal effort and pro^Jer discipline. Under 
this head we place all moral and religious qualities, dispositions, 
and attainments. The spirit is that higher moral nature which 
especially distinguishes man from the brute, and renders him capa- 
ble of knowing and loving God. To meet the wants of this spirit- 
ual nature the Bible is admirably adapted; but the perverse heart 
and carnal mind may refuse to entertain the thoughts of God. 
" The natural man," says Paul, " does not receive the things of the 
Spirit of God, for they are a folly to him, and he is not able to 
know, because they are spiritually discerned " (1 Cor. ii, 14). 

First of all, the true interpreter needs a disposition to seek and 
Desire to know know the truth. No man can properly enter upon the 
the truth. study and exposition of what purports to be the reve- 

lation of God while his heart is influenced by any prejudice against 
it, or hesitates for a moment to accept what commends itself to his 
conscience and his judgment. There must be a sincere desire and 
purpose to attain the truth, and cordially accept it when attained. 
Such a disposition of heart, which may be more or less strong in 
early childhood, is then easily encouraged and developed, or as 
easily perverted. Early prejudices and the natural tendency of 
tlie liuman soul to run after that which is evil, rapidly beget habits 
and dispositions unfriendly to godliness. "For the carnal mind is 
enmity against God" (Rom. viii, 7), and readily cleaves to that 
which seems to remove moral obligation. " Every one that does 
evil hates the light, and comes not to the light lest his deeds should 
be reproved" (John iii, 20). A soul thus perverted is incompetent 
to love and search the Scriptures. 

Tomier uiicc- ^ 1'"'"^ desire to know the truth is enhanced by a ten- 
•■'on- der affection for whatever is morally ennobling. The 

writhigs of John abound in passages of tender feeling, and suggest 


how deep natures like his possess an intuition of godliness. Their 
souls yearn for the pure and the good, and they exult to find it all 
in God. Such tender aflfection is the seat of all pure love, whether 
of God or of man. The characteristic utterance of such a soul is: 
"Beloved, let us love one another; because love is of God, and 
every one that loves has been begotten of God, and knows God. 
. . . God is love; and he that abides in love abides in God, and God 
in hira" (1 John iv, 7, 16). 

The love of the truth should be fervent and glowing, so as to be- 
get in the soul an enthusiasm for the word of God. Enthusiasm for 
The mind that truly appreciates the Homeric poems the word. 
must imbibe the spirit of Homer. The same is true of him who 
delights in the magnificent periods of Demosthenes, the easy num- 
bers and burning thoughts of Shakspeare, or the lofty verse of Mil- 
ton. What fellowship with such lofty natures can he have whose 
soul never kindles with enthusiasm in the study of their works? 
So the j^rofound and able exegete is he whose spirit God has 
touched, and whose soul is enlivened by the revelations of heaven. 

Such hallowed fervour should be chastened and controlled by a 
true reverence. "The fear of Jehovah is the begin- Reverence for 
ning of knowledge " (Prov. i, 7). There must be the ^°^- 
devout frame of mind, as well as the pure desire to know the 
truth. " God is a Spirit; and they that worship him must worship 
him in spirit and in truth" (John iv, 24). Therefore, they who 
would attain the true knowledge of God must possess the rever- 
ent, truth-loving spirit; and, having attained this, God will seek 
them (John iv, 23) and reveal himself to them as he does not unto 
the world. Compare Matt, xi, 25; xvi, 17. 

Finally, the expounder of the Holy Scriptures needs to have liv- 
ing fellowship and communion with the Holy Sj^irit. communion 
Inasmuch as " all Scripture is God-breathed " (2 Tim. with the Holy 
iii, 1 6), and the sacred writers spoke from God as they ^'" " 
were moved by the Holy Spirit (2 Peter i, 21), the interpreter of 
Scripture must be a partaker of the same Holy Spirit. He must, 
by a profound experience of the soul, attain the saving knowledge 
of Christ, and in proportion to the depth and fulness of that expe- 
rience he will know the life and peace of the " mind of the Spirit " 
(Rom. viii, 6). " We speak God's wisdom in a mystery," says 
Paul (1 Cor. ii, 7-11), the hidden spiritual wisdom of a divinely 
illuminated heart, which none of the princes of this world have 
known, but (as it is in substance written in Isa. Ixiv, 4) a wisdom 
relating to " what things (a) eye did not see, and ear did not hear, 
and into man's heart did not enter — whatever things (ooa) God 


prepared for them that love him; for' to lis Gocl revealed them 
through the Spirit; for the Sj^irit searches all things, even the 
depths of God. For who of men knows the things of tl\e man 
except the spirit of the man which is in him ? So also the things 
of God no one knows except the Spirit of God." He, then, who 
would know and explain to others " the mysteries of the kingdom 
of heaven " (Matt, xiii, 11) must enter into blessed' communion and 
fellowship with the Holy One. He should never cease to pray 
(Eph. i, 17, 18) "that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Fa- 
ther of glory, would give him the spirit of wisdom and of re^ela- 
tion in the full knowledge (eTriyvcjaig) of him, the eyes of his heart 
being enlightened for the purpose of knowing what is the hope of 
his calling, what the riches of the glory of his inheritance in the 
saints, and what the exceeding greatness of his power toward us 
who believe." 

' We follow here the reading of Westcott and Hort, who receive yaQ into the text. 
This reading has the strong support of Codex B, and would have been quite liable to 
be changed to the more numerously supported reading 6e by reason of a failure to 
apprehend the somewhat involved connection of thought. The ydg gives the reason 
why toe speak God's mysterious wisdom, for to us God revealed it through the Spirit. 


'9 *- 


We count it no gentleness or fair dealing, in a man of power, to require 
strict and punctual ohedience, and yet give out his commands amhiguously . 
We should thinlc he had a plot upon us. Certainly such commands were no 
commands, hut snares, (The very essence of truth is plainness and hrightness; 
the darlcness and ignorance are our own. (TTie wisdom of God created under- 
standing, fit and proportionable to truth, the ohj'ect and end of it, as the eye to 
the thing visihle. If our understanding have a film of ignorance over it, or 
he hlear with gazing on other false glistering s, 'what is that to truth? Jf we 
vAll hut purge with sovereign eye-salve that intellectual ray which Crod hath 
planted in us, then we would helieve the Scriptures protesting their own plain- 
ness and perspicuity, calling to them to he instructed, not only the wise and 
the learned, hut the simple, the poor, the hahes ; foretelling an extraordinary 
effusion of Q-od's Spirit upon every age and sect, attributing to all men and 
requiring from them the ability of searching, trying, examining all things, and 
by the Spirit discerning that which is good. — Milton. 






The Principles of Biblical Hermeneutics are those governing laws 
and methods of procedure by which the interpreter de- 

. i> 1 TT 1 n • Hermeneutical 

termmes the meaning of the Holy Scriptures. These principles de- 
principles are of the nature of comprehensive and fun- ^"'^'^' 
damental doctrines. They become to the practical exegete so many 
maxims, postulates, and settled rules. He is supposed to hold them 
in the mind as axioms, and to apply them in all his expositions with 
uniform consistency.' 

The importance of establishing sound and trustworthy principles 
of biblical exposition is universally conceded. For it , 

^ .... . Importance of 

is evident that a false principle m his method will nee- sound princi- 
cssarily vitiate the entire exegetical process of an inter- ^^^^^' 
preter. When we find that in the explanation of certain parts of 
the Scriptures no two interi^reters out of a whole class agree, we 
liave great reason to presume at once that some fatal error lurks in 
their principles of interpretation. We cannot believe that the 
sacred writers desired to be misunderstood. They did not write 
with a purpose to confuse and mislead their readers. Nor is it 
reasonable to suppose that the Scripture, given by divine inspira- 
tion, is of the nature of a puzzle designed to exercise the ingenuity 
of critics. It was given to make men wise unto salvation, and in 
great part it is so direct and simple in its teachings that a little 
child can understand its meaning. But the Bible contains some 
riddles and dark sayings, and many revelations in the form of types, 
symbols, parables, allegories, visions, and dreams, and the intcrpro- 

' "The perfect understanding of a discourse," says Schleiermacher, "is a work of 
art, and involves the need of au art-doctrine, which we designate by the term Her- 
meneutics. Such an art-doctrine has existence only in so far as the precepts admitted 
form a system resting upon principles which are immediately evident from the nature 
of thought and language." — Outline of the Study of Theology," p. 142. Edinb., 1850. 


tation of these has exerciser! the most gifterl minds. IMany differ- 
ent and often contradictory methods of exposition have been 
adopted, and some enthusiasts liave gone to the extreme of affirm- 
ing that there are manifokl meanings and "mountains of sense" in 
every line of Scripture. Lender the spell of some such fascination 
many have been strangely misled, and have set forth as expositions 
of the Scriptures their own futile fancies.' 

Sound hermeneutical j^rinciples are, therefore, elements of safety 
True metiiod and satisfaction in the study of God's Amtten word. 
of detejiiiining jj^^ j^q^^^ j^j.g g^(,IJ principles to be ascertained and es- 

sound pnnci- ^ ^ 

pies. tablished? How may we determine what is true and 

what is false in the various methods of exposition? We must go 
to the Scriptures themselves, and search them in all their parts and 
forms. We miist seek to ascertain the principles which the sacred 
writers followed. Naked propositions, or formulated rules of in- 
terpretation, will be of little or no worth unless supported and 
illustrated by self-verifying examples. It is Avorthy of note that 
the Scriptures furnish repeated examples of the formal interpre- 
tation of dreams, visions, types, symbols, and parables. In such 
examples we are especially to seek our fundamental and controlling 
laws of exposition. Unless we find clear warrant for it in the word 
itself, we sliould never allow that any one passage or sentiment of 
divine revelation has more than one true import. The Holy Scrip- 
ture is no Delphic oracle to bewilder and mislead the human heart 
by utterances of double meaning. God's written word, taken as a 
whole, and allowed to speak for itself, will be found to be its own 
best interpreter. 

The process of observing the laws of thought and language, as 
Ennobling tea- exhibited in the Holy Scriptures, is an ennobling study. 
menou\iTai ^^ affords an edifying intercourse Avith eminent and 
study. choice spirits of the past, and compels us for the time 

to lose sight of temporary interests, and to become absorbed with 
the thouglUs and feelings of other ages; He who forms the habit 
of studying not only the divine thoughts of revelation, but also 
the principles and methods according to which those thoughts have 
been expressed, Avill acquire a moral and intellectual culture worthy 
of the noblest ambition. 

• Lange suggestively remarks : " As the sun in the earthly heavens has to break 
througli many cloudy media, so also does the divine word of Holy Poripturo thronuh 
the confusion of every kind which arises from the soil of earthly uituitiou and rupr<j- 
tentatiou." Grundriss der biblischcn Ucrmeneutik, p. 77. 




In proceding to ascertain the principles of a valid and self-consis- 
tent Scripture exegesis, we do well to knoM^ beforehand something 
of the methods and systems of interpretation which have 
been followed by others. A brief survey of these will be a help 
both in avoiding false principles and in apprehending the true. 

The allegorical method of interpretation obtained an early prom- 
inence among the Jews of Alexandria. Its origin is Allegorical in- 
usually attributed to the mingling of Greek philosophy terpretation. 
and the biblical conceptions of God. Many of the theophanies and 
anthropomorphisms of the Old Testament were repugnant to the 
philosophic mind, and hence the effort to discover behind the outer 
form an inner substance of truth. The biblical narratives Avere 
often treated like the Greek myths, and explained as either a his- 
torical or an enigmatical embodiment of moral and religious les- 
sons. The most distinguished representative of JeAvish allegorical 
interpi'etation was Philo of Alexandi'ia, and an example of his alle- 
gorizing many be seen in the following remarks on the ri\ers of 
Eden (Gen. ii, 10-14): 

In these words Moses intends to slcetch out the parlicniar virtues. 
And they, also, are four in number, ])nu"l(nce, temperance, courajre, and 
justice. Now the greatest river, from wliich the four branches flow off, is 
generic virtue, whieh we have already called goodness; and tlie four 
branches are the same number of virtues. Generic virtue, therefore, do- 
rives its beginning from Eden, which is the wisdon\ of God ; which re- 
joices, and exults, and triumphs, being delighted at and iionoured on 
account of nothing else, except its Father, God. And tlie four particular 
virtues are branches from the generic virtue, which, like a river, waters all 
the good actions of each with an aliundant stream of benefits. ^ 

Similar allegorizing abounds in the early Christian fathers. Thus, 
Clement of Alexandria, commenting on the Mosaic prohibition of 
eating the swine, the hawk, the eagle, and the raven, observes: 
"The sow is the emblem, of voluptu(Ais and unclean lust of food. 
. . . The eagle indicates robbery, the hawk injustice, and the raven 
greed." On Exod. xv, 1, "Jehovah has triumphed gloriously; the 
horse and his rider has he thrown into the sea," Clement remarks: 
> The Allegories of the Sacred Laws, book i, 1 9 (Bohn's edition). 


The many-liiuberl and brutal affection, lust, with the rider mounted, who 
gives the reins to pleasures, he casts into the sea — throwing them away 
into the disorders of the world. TIuis, also, Plato, in his book on the soul 
[Timseus], says that tiie charioteer and the horse that ran off — (tlie irra- 
tional part, which is divided into two, into anger and concupiscence) — fall 
down; and so the myth intimates that it was through the licentiousness of 
tlie steeds that Phaethon was thrown out." 

The allegorical method of interpretation is based upon a pro- 
found reverence for the Scriptures, and a desire to exhibit their 
manifold depths of wisdom. But it will be noticed at once that 
its habit is to disregard the common signification of words, and 
give Aving to all manner of fanciful speculation. It does not draw- 
out the legitimate meaning of an author's language, but foists into 
it Avhatever the whim or fancy of an interpreter may desire. As 
a system, therefore, it puts itself beyond all well-defined principles 
and laws. 

Closely allied to the allegorical interpretation is the Mystical," 
Mystical inter- according to which manifold depths and shades of mean- 
pretation. jng are sought in every word of Scripture. The alle- 

gorical interpreters have, accordingly, very naturally run into much 
that is to be classed v/ith mystical theorizing. Clement of Alex- 
andria maintained that the laws of Moses contain a fourfold signif- 
icance, the natural, the mystical, the moral, and the prophetical. 
Origen held that, as man's nature consists of body, soul, and spirit, 
80 the Scriptures have a con*esponding threefold sense, the bodily 
(oujiartKog), or literal, the psychical (ipvxiKog)^ or moral, and the 
spiritual (nvevijaTiKog), which latter lie further distinguishes as alle- 
gorical, tropological, and anagogical. In the early part of the 
ninth century the learned Rhabanus Maurus recommended four 
methods of exposition, the historical, the allegorical, the anagogical, 
and the tropological. He observes : 

By these the mother Wisdom feeds the sons of her adoption. Uiion 
youth and tiiose of tender age s!ie bestows drink, in the milk of history; 
on sucii as have made proficiency in faith, food, in the bread of allegory; 
to the good, such as strenuously laliour in good works, she gives a satisfy- 
ing portion in the savoury nourishment of tropology. To those, in fine, 
who have raised themselves jibove the conunon level of humanity by a con- 
temi)t of earthly things, and liavc advanced to the highest by heavenly 
desires, she gives the sober intoxication of theoretic contemplation in the 
wine of anagogy. . , . History, which narrates examples of perfect men, 

' Miscellanies, book v, chap. viii. 

' According to Ernesti, tlie mystical interpretation differs from the allegorical, as 
among the Greeks ■deupia differs from uJ.Ariyopia. Institutes, chap, ix, 3. 


excites the reader to imitate tlieir sanctity; allegory excites him to know 
the trutli in the revelation of faith; tropology encourages him to the love 
of virtue by improving the morals; and anagogy promotes the longinc after 
eternal happiness by revealing everlasting joys. . . . Since tlien, it appears 
that these four modes of understanding the Holy Scriptures unveil all the 
secret things in them, we should consider when they are to be understood 
according to one of them only, when according to two, when accordino- to 
three, and when according to all the four together.' 

Among the mystical interpreters we may also place the cele- 
brated Emanuel Swedenborg, who maintains a three- gwedenborffian 
fold sense of Scripture, according to what he calls " the interpretation. 
Science of Correspondencies." As there are three heavens, a low- 
est, a middle, and a highest, so there are three senses of the Word, 
the natural or literal, the spiritual, and the celestial. He says : 

Tile Word in the letter is like a casket, where lie in order precious stones, 
pearls, and diadems; and when a man esteems the Word holy, and reads 
it for the sake of the uses of life, the thoughts of his mind are, compara- 
tively, like one who holds such a cabinet in his hand, and sends it heaven- 
ward ; and it is opened in its ascent, and the precious things therein come 
to the angels, who are deeply delighted witli seeing and examining them. 
This delight of tiie angels is communicated to the man, and makes conso- 
ciation, and also a communication of perceptions.^ 

He explains the commandment "Thou shalt not kill" (Exod. 
XX, 13), first, in its natural sense, as foi'bidding murder and also 
the cherishing of hatred and revenge ; secondly, in the spiritual 
sense, as forbidding "to act the devil and destroy a man's soul;" 
and thirdly, in the celestial or heavenly sense, the angels understand 
killing to signify hating the Lord and the Word. 

Somewhat allied to the mystical is that Pietistic mode of exposi- 
tion, according to which the interpreter claims to be pietistic inter- 
guided by an " inward light," received as " an unction pretation. 
from the Holy One" (1 John ii, 20). The rules of grammar and 
the common meaning and usage of words are discarded, and the 
internal Light of the Spirit is held to be the abiding and infallible 
Revealer. Some of the later Pietists of Germany, and the Quakers 
of England and America have been especially given to this mode 
of handling the Scriptures.' It is certainly to be supposed that 

' From Maurus. Allejjoriae in Universam Sacram Scripturam, as given in Davidson, 
Hermeneutics, pp. 105, 106. 

' The True Christian Religion, chap, iv, 6. 

^ From pietistic extravagant-e we of course except such men as Spener and A. H. 
Francke, the great leaders of what is known as Pietism in Germany. The noble prac- 
tical character of their work and teaching saved them from the excesses into which 
most of those run who are commonly called Fictists. "The principal efforts of the 


this holy inward light Avould never contradict itself, or guide its 
followers into different expositions of the same scripture. But the 
divergent and irreconcilable interpretations prevalent among the 
adhei-ents of this system show that the "inward light" is untrust- 
worthy. Like the allegorical and mystical systems of interpreta- 
tion, Pietism concedes the sanctity of the Scriptures, and seeks in 
them the lessons of eternal life; but as to principles and rules of 
exegesis it is more lawless and irrational. The Allegorist pro- 
fesses to follow certain analogies and correspondencies, but the 

^ Quaker-Pietist is a law unto himself, and his own subjective feel- 
in »• or fancy is the end of controversy. He sets himself up as a 
new oracle, and while assuming to follow the written word of God, 
puts forth his own diction as a further revelation. Such a pro- 
cedure, of course, can never commend itself to the common sense 
and the rational judgment. 

A method of exposition, which owes its distinction to the cele- 
brated J. S. Semler, the father of the destructive school of German 
AccoiTimoda- Rationalism, is known as the Accommodation Theory. 
tion Theory. According to this theory the Scripture teachings respect- 
ing miracles, vicarious and expiatory sacrifice, the resurrection, 
eternal judgment, and the existence of angels and demons, are to 
be regarded as an accommodation to the superstitious notions, 

>^ Ijrejudices, and ignorance of the times. The supernatural was 
thus set aside. Semler became possessed with the idea that we 
must distinguish between religion and theology, and between 
personal piety and the public teaching of the Church. He re- 
jected the doctrine of tlie Divine inspiration of the Scriptures, 
and argued that, as the Old Testament was written for the Jews, 
whose religious notions were narrow and faulty, we cannot accept 
its teachings as a general rule of faith. Matthew's Gospel, he held, 
was intended for Jews outside of Palestine, and John's Gospel for 
Christians Avho had more or less of Grecian culture. Paul at first 
adapted himself to Jewish modes of thought with the hope of win- 
ning over many of his coiintrymen to Christianity, but failing in 
this, he turned to the Gentiles, and became pre-eminent in holding 
up Christianity as the religion for all men. The different books of 
Scripture were, accordingly, designed to serve only a temporary 

Pietists," says Iininoi', " were directed toward the cdificatory ai)jdication of Scripture, 
as may be seen from P'rancke's Maiiuductio ad Leetionem Scripturae Sacrae. This 
predominance of effort at edification soon degenerated into indifference to science, and 
at hist iiitr, jiroud contempt of it. Mystical and typolojjical trifling arose; chiliastic 
phantasies fountl great acceptance; the Scriptures were not so much explained as 
overwhelmed with pious reflections." Hermeneutics, p. 40. 


purpose, and many of their statements may be summarily set aside 
as untrue. 

The fatal objection to this method of interpretation is that it 
necessarily imj^ugns the veracity and honour of the sacred writers, 
and of the Son of God himself. It represents them as conniving at 
the errors and ignorance of men, and confirming them and the 
readers of the Scriptures in such ignorance and error. If such a 
principle be admitted into our expositions of the Bible, wc at once 
lose our moorings, and drift out upon an open sea of conjecture 
and uncertainty. 

A passing notice should also be taken of what is commonly called 
the Moral Interpretation, and which owes its origin to Moral interpre- 
the celebrated philosopher of Konigsberg, Iramanuel ^^^tion of Kaut. 
Kant. The prominence given to the pure reason, and the idealism 
maintained in his metaphysical system, naturally led to the practice 
of making the Scriptures bend to the preconceived demands of 
reason. For, although the whole Scripture be given by inspiration 
of God, it has for its practical value and purpose the moral improve- 
ment of man. Hence, if the literal and historical sense of a given 
passage yield no profitable moral lesson, such as commends itself to 
the practical reason, we are at liberty to set it aside, and attach to 
the words such a meaning as is compatible with the religion of 
reason. It is maintained that such expositions are not to be charged 
with insincerit}^, inasmuch as they are not to be set forth as the 
meaning strictly intended by the sacred writers, but only as a 
meaning which the writers may possibly have intended.' The only 
real value of the Scriptures is to illustrate and confirm the religion 
of reason. 

It is easy to see that such a system of interpretation, which pro- 
fessedly ignores the grammatical and historical sense of the Bible, 
can have no reliable or self-consistent rules. Like the mystical and 
allegorical methods, it leaves every thing subject to the peculiar 
faith or fancy of the interpreter. 

So open to criticism and objection are all the above-mentioned 
methods of interpretation, that we need not be surprised to find 
them offset by other extremes. Of all rationalistic theories the 

' See Kant, Religion innerhalb der Grenzen der blossen Vermin ft, p. IGl. This 
" was the Avorlv of his old age, and at all periods of his life he seems to have been at 
least as deficient in religious sentiment as in emotional imagination, which is allied to 
it. . . . It treats the revelations of Scripture in regard to the fall of man, to his re- 
demption, and to his restoration, as a moral allegory, the data of which are supplied 
by the consciousness of depravity, and of dereliction from the strict principles of duty. 
It is Strauss in the germ." M'Clintock and Strong's Cyclopaedia, article Kant. 


Naturalistic is the most violent and radical. A rigid application 
Naturaiistip In- ^^ tliis theory is exhibited in Paulus' Commentary on 
terpretation. the New Testament,' in which it is maintained that the 
biblical critic should always distinguish between what is fact and 
what is mere oi)inion. He accepts the historical truth of the Gospel 
narratives, but holds that the mode of accounting for them is a mat- 
ter of opinion. He rejects all supernatural agency in human affairs, 
and explains the miracles of Jesus either as acts of kindness, or ex- 
hibitions of medical skill, or illustrations of personal sagacity and 
tact, recorded in a manner peculiar to the age and opinions of the 
different writers. Jesus' walking on the sea was really a walking on 
the shore ; but the boat was all the time so near the shore, that when 
Peter jumped into the sea Jesus could reach and rescue him from the 
shore. The excitement was so great, and the impi-essiou on the dis- 
ciples so deep, that it seemed to them as if Jesus had miraculously 
walked on the sea, and come to their help. The apparent miracle of 
making five loaves feed five thousand people was done simply by the 
example, which Jesus bade his disci})k'S set, of distributing of their 
own little store to those immediately about them. This example Avas 
promptly followed by other companies, and it was found that there 
was more than suflicient food for all. Lazarus did not really die, but 
fell into a swoon, and was supposed to be dead. But Jesus suspected 
the real state of the case, and coming to the tomb at the opportune 
moment, happily found that his suspicions v/ere correct; and his Avis- 
dom and power in the case made a profound and lasting impression. 

This style of exposition, however, was soon seen to set at naught 
the rational laws of human speech, and to undermine the credibility 
of all ancient history. It exposed the sacred books to all manner 
of ridicule and satire, and only for a little time awakened any con- 
siderable interest. 

The Naturalistic method of interpretation was followed by the 
The Mytbicai Mythical. Its most distinguished representative was 
Theory. David Friedrich Strauss, whose Life of Jesus (Das Lcben 

Jesu), first published in 1835, created a profound sensation in the 
Christian world. The Mythical theory, as developed and rigidly 
carried out by Strauss, was a logical and self -consistent application 
to biblical exposition of the Ilegeliaji (pantheistic) doctrine that the 
idea of God and of the absolute is neither shot forth miraculously, 
nor revealed in the individual, but developed in the consciousness 
of humanity. According to Strauss, the Messianic idea was gradu- 
ally developed in the expectations and yearnings of the Jewish 

' riiilologiscli-ki'itischer uud historischor Commentar iibor das neuo Teritament. 
4 vols. 1800-1804. 


nation, and at the time Jesus appeared it was rij^ening into full 
maturity. The Christ was to spring from the line of David, be 
born at Bethlehem, be a prophet like Moses, and speak words of 
infallible wisdom. His age should be full of signs and wonders. 
The eyes of the blind should be opened, the ears of the deaf should 
be unstopped, and the tongue of the dumb should sing. Amid 
these hopes and expectations Jesus arose, an Israelite of remarkaljle 
beauty and force of character, who, by his personal excellence and 
wise discourse, made an overwhelming impression upon his imme- 
diate friends and followers. After his decease, his disciples not 
only yielded to the conviction that he must have risen from the 
dead, but began at once to associate with him all their Messianic 
ideals. Their argument was: "Such and such things must have 
pertained to the Christ; Jesus was the Christ; therefore such and 
such things happened to him." ' The visit of the wise men from 
the East was suggested by Balaam's prophecy of the " star out of 
Jacob" (Num. xxiv, 17). The flight of the holy family into Ejjypt 
was worked up out of Moses' flight into Midian; and the slaughter 
of the infants of Bethlehem out of Pharaoh's order to destroy 
every male among the infant Israelites of Egypt. The miraculous 
feeding of the five thousand with a few loaves of bread was appro- 
priated from the Old Testament story of the manna. The trans- 
figuration in the high mountain apart was drawn from the accounts 
of Moses and Elijah in the mount of God. In short, Christ did not 
institute the Christian Church, and send forth his gospel, as nar- 
rated in the New Testament ; rather, the Christ of the Gospels was 
the mythical creation of the early Church. Adoring enthusiasts 
clothed the memory of the man Jesus with all that could enhance 
his name and character as the Messiah of the world. But what is 
fact and what is fiction must be determined bj^ critical analysis. 
Sometimes it may be impossible to draw the dividing line. 

Among the criteria by which we are to distinguish the mythical, 
Strauss instances the following: A narrative is not his- strauss' crite- 
torical (1) when its statements are irreconcilable with na of myths. 
the known and universal laws which govern the course of events; 
(2) when it is inconsistent with itself or with other accounts of the 
same thing; (3) when the actors converse in poetry or elevated dis- 
course unsuitable to their training and situation; (4) when the es- 
sential substance and groundwork of a reported occurrence is either 
inconceivable in itself, or is in striking harmony with some Messi- 
anic idea of the Jews of that age.* 

' See Life of Jesus, Introduction, § 14. 
' Ibid., Introduction, § 16. 


Xie need not here enter npon a detailed exposure of the fallacies 
of this mythical theory. It is sufficient to observe, on the four 
critical rules enumerated above, that the first dogmatically denies 
the possibility of miracles; the second (especially as used by 
Strauss) virtually assume:^, that when two accounts disagree, both 
must be false! the third is worthless until it is clearly shown 
what is suitable or unsuitable in each given case; and the fourth, 
when reduced to the last analysis, Avill be found to be simply an 
appeal to one's subjective notions. To these considerations we add 
that the Gospel portraiture of Jesus is notably unlike the prevalent 
Jewish concejjtion of the Messiah at that time. It is too perfect 
and marvellous to have been the product of any human faiicy. 
Myths arise only in unhistoric ages, and a long time after the per- 
sons or events they represent, whereas Jesus lived and wrought his 
wonderful works in a most critical period of Greek and Roman 
civilization. Furthermore, the New Testament writings were pub- 
lished too soon after the actual appearance of Jesus to embody 
such a mythical development as Strauss assumes. While attempt- 
ing to show how the Church spontaneously originated the Christ of 
the gospels, this whole tlieory fails to show any sufficient cause or 
explanation of the origin of the Church and of Christianity itself. 
The mythical interpretation, after half a century of learned labours, 
has notably failed to commend itself to the judgment of Christian 
scholars, and has few advocates at the jDresent time. 

The four last-named methods of interpretation may all be deslg- 
other rational- "^'^ted as Rationalistic; but under this name we may 
istic methods, also place Some other methods which agree Avith the 
naturalistic, the mythical, the moral, and the accommodation the- 
ories, in denying the supernatural element in the Bible. The 
peculiar methods by Avhich F. C. Baur, Renan, Schenkel, and other 
rationalistic critics have attempted to portray the life of Jesus, 
and to account for the origin of the Gospels, the Acts, and the 
Epistles, often involve correspondingly peculiar principles of inter- 
pretation. All these writers, however, proceed with assumptions 
which virtually beg the questions at issue between the naturalist 
and the supernaturalist. But they all conspicuously differ among 
themselves. Baur rejects the mythical theory of Strauss, and finds 
the origin of many of the New Testament writings in the Petrine 
and Pauline factions of the early Church, These factions arose over 
the question of abolishing the Old Testament ceremonial and tlie 
rite of circumcision. The Acts of the Apostles is regarded as the 
monument of a i)acification between these rival parties, effected in 
the early part of the second century. The book is treated as large- 


Ij a fiction, in which the author, a disciple of Paul, represents 
Peter as the first to preach the Gospel to the Gentiles, and exhibits 
Paul as conforming to divers Jewish customs, thus securing a rec- 
onciliation between the Pauline and Petrine Christians,' Renan, 
on the other hand, maintains a legendary theory of the origin of 
the gospels, and attributes the miracles of Jesus, like the marvels 
of medifEval saints, j^artly to the blind adoration and enthusiasm of 
his followers, and partly to pious fraud. Schenkel essays to make 
the life and character of Christ intelligible by stripping it of the 
divine and the miraculous, and presenting him as a mere man. 

Against all these rationalistic theories it is obvious to remark that 
they exclude and destroy each other. Strauss exploded the natur- 
alistic method of Paulus, and Baur shows that tl^e mythical theory 
of Strauss is untenable. Renan pronounces against the theories of 
Baur, and exposes the glaring fallacy of making the Petrine ar.d 
Pauline factions account for the origin of the New Testament 
books, and the books account for the factions. Renan's own meth- 
ods of criticism appear to be utterly laAvless, and his light and cap- 
tious remarks have led many of his readers to feel that he is desti- 
tute of any serious or sacred convictions, and that he would readily 
make use of furtive means to gain his end. He is continually 
foisting into the Scriptures meanings of his own, and making the 
writers say what was probably never in their thoughts. He as- 
sumes, for instance, as a teaching of Jesus, that the rich man was 
sent to Hades because he was rich, and Lazarus was glorified be- 
cause he was a pauper. Many of his interpretations are based upon 
the most unwarrantable assumptions, and are unworthy of any seri- 
ous attempt at refutation. The logical issue lies far back of his 
exegesis, in the fundamental questions of a jaersonal God and an 
OA'erruling providence. 

Sceptical and rationalistic assaults upon the Scriptures have called 
out a method of interpretation which may be called j^pojo„gtj(> a,nd 
Apologetic. It assumes to defend at all hazards the au- Dogmatic meth- 
thenticity, genuineness, and credibility of every docu- 
ment incorporated in the sacred canon, and its standpoint and 
methods are so akin to that of the Dogmatic exposition of the Bi- 
ble, that we present the two together. The objectionable feature 
of these methods is that they virtually set out with the ostensible 
purpose of maintaining a preconceived hypothesis. Tlie hypothesis 
may be right, but the procedure is always liable to mislead. It 

' Several notions of the Tiibingen critical school, represented by Baur, may be found 
in substance among the teachings of Semler, tlie author of this destructive species of 
criticism. , 


presents the constant temptation to find desired meanings in words, 
and ignore the scope and general purpose of the writer. There are 
cases where it is well to assume a hypothesis, and use it as a means 
of investigation; but in all such cases the hypothesis is only as- 
sumed tentatively, not affirmed dogmatically. In the exposition of 
the Bible, apology and dogma have a legitimate place. The true 
apology defends the sacred books against an unreasonable and cap- 
tious criticism, and presents their claims to be regarded as the reve- 
lation of God. But this can be done only by pursuing rational 
methods, and by the use of a convincing logic. So also the Scrip- 
tures are profitable for dogma, but the dogma must be shown to be 
a legitimate teaching of the Scripture, not a traditional idea at- 
tached to the Scripture. The extermination of the Canaanites, the 
immolation of Jephthah's daughter, the polygamy of the Old Test- 
ament saints, and their complicity Avith slavery, are capable of 
rational explanation, and, in that sense, of a valid apology. The 
true apologist will not attempt to justify the cruelties of the an- 
cient wars, or hold that Israel had a legal right to Canaan; he will 
not seek to evade the obvious import of language, and maintain 
that Jephthah's daughter was not offered at all, but became a Jew- 
ish nun; nor will he find it necessary to defend the Old Testament 
practice of polygamy, or of slavery. He Avill let facts and state- 
ments stand in their own light, but guard against false inferences 
and rash conclusions. So also the doctrines of the Trinity, the 
divinity of Christ, the personality of the Holy Spirit, the vicarious 
atonement, justification, regeneration, sanctification, and the resur- 
rection, have a firm foundation in the Scriptures ; but how unscien- 
tific and objectionable many of the methods by which these and 
other doctrines have been maintained! When a theologian assumes 
the standpoint of an ecclesiastical creed, and thence proceeds, Avith 
a polemic air, to search for single texts of Scripture favourable to 
himself or unfavourable to his opponent, he is more than likely to 
overdo tlie matter. His creed may be as true as the Bible itself; 
but his method is reprehensible. Witness the disputes of Luther 
and Zwingle over the matter of consubstantiation. Read the 
l)olemic literature of the Antinomian, the Calvinistic, and the Sacra- 
mentarian controversies. The whole Bible is ransacked and treated 
as if it were an atomical collection of dogmatic proof-texts. How 
hard is it, even at this day, for the polemic divine to concede the 
spuriousness of 1 John v, 7. It should be remembered that no 
apology is sound, and no doctrine sure, which rests upon uncritical 
methods, or proceeds U])on dogmatical assumptions. Such proce- 
dures are not exposition, but imposition. 


In distinction from all the above-mentioned methods of interpre- 
tation, we may name the Grammatico-Historical as the ^ 

' _ •' . ^ Grammatico- 

method which most fully commends itself to the judg- Historical id- 
ment and conscience of Christian scholars. Its funda- ^^p^'^'^'^'^io^- 
mental principle is to gather from the Scriptures themselves tho 
precise meaning which the writers intended to convey. It applies 
to the sacred books the same princij^les, the same grammatical proc- 
ess and exercise of common sense and reason, which we apply to 
other books. The grammatico-historical exegete, furnished with 
suitable qualifications, intellectual, educational, and moral,' will ac- 
cept the claims of the Bible without prejudice or adverse prepos- 
session, and, with no ambition to prove them true or false, will 
investigate the language and import of each book with fearless in- 
dependence. He will master the language of the writer, the jjar- 
ticular dialect which he used, and his peculiar style and manner of 
expression. He will inquire into the circumstances under which he 
wrote, the manners and customs of his age, and the purpose or ob- 
ject which he had in view. He has a right to assume that no sensi- 
ble author will be knowingly inconsistent with himself, or seek to 
bewilder and mislead his readers, 

"Nearly all the treatises on hermeneutics," says Moses Stuart, 

"since the days of Ernesti, have laid it down as a max- ^ ^., , ^ ^ 
, . . The Bible to be 

im which cannot be controverted, that the Bible is to interpreted like 
be interpreted in the same manner, that is, by the same ^^^'^^ books. 
principles, as all other books. Writers are not wanting, previously 
to the period in which Ernesti lived, who have maintained the same 
thing; but we may also find some who have assailed the position be- 
fore us, and laboured to show that it is nothing less than a species 
of profaneness to treat the sa(!red books as we do the classic au- 
thors v/ith respect to their interpretation. Is this allegation well 
grounded ? Is there any good reason to object to the principle of 
interpretation now in question ? In order to answer, let us direct 
our attention to the nature and source of what are now called prin- 
ciples or laws of iater^^retation : Whence did they originate ? Are 
they the artificial production of high-wrought skill, of laboured re- 
search, of profound and extensive learning ? Did they spring from 
the subtleties of nice distinctions, from the philosophical and meta- 
physical efforts of the schools ? Are they the product of exalted 
and dazzling genius, sparks of celestial fire, which none but a 
favoured few can emit? No; nothing of all this. The principles 
of interpretation, as to their substantial and essential elements, are 
no invention of man, no product of his effort and learned skill; 

^Compare pp. 151-158 on the Qualifications of an Interpreter. 


nay, tLey can scarcely be said -with trnth to have "been discovered 
by him. They are coeval with our nature. Ever since man waa 
created and endowed with the powers of speech, and made a cnrti- 
municative, social being, lie has had occasion to practice upon the 
principles of interpretation, and has actually done so. From the 
first moment that one human being addressed another by the use 
of language down to the present hour, the essential laws of inter- 
pretation became, and have continued to l)e, a practical matter. 
'Die person addressed has always been an interpreter in every in- 
stance where he has heard and understood what was addressed to 
him. All the human race, therefore, are, and ever have been, in- 
terpreters. It is a law of their rational, intelligent, communicative 
nature. Just as truly as one human being was formed so as to ad- 
dress another in language, just so truly that other was formed to 
interpret and understand what is said. 

" I venture to advance a step farther and to aver that all men 
are, and ever have been, in reality, good and iruc interpreters of 
each other's language. Has any part of our race, in full j)Ossession 
of the human faculties, ever failed to understand what others said 
to them, and to understand it truly? or to make themselves under- 
stood by others, Avhen they have in their communications kept 
within the circle of their own knowledge? Surely none. Inter- 
pretation, then, in its basis or fundamental princijjles, is a native 
art, if I may so speak. It is coeval with the power of uttering 
words. It is, of course, a universal art; it is common to all nations, 
barbarous as well as civilized. One cannot commit a more palpable 
error in relation to this subject than to suppose that the art of in- 
terpretation is ... in itself wholly dependent on acquired skill for 
the discovery and development of its prmciples. Acquired skill has 
indeed helped to an orderly exhibition and arrangement of its prin- 
ciples; but this is all. The materials were all in existence before 
skill attempted to develop them. . . . An interpreter, well skilled 
in his art, will glory in it, that it is an art which has its foundation 
in the laws of our intellectual and rational nature, and is coe\al and 
connate with this nature." ' 

(So far, indeed, as the Bible maj'^ differ from other books in its su- 
pernatural revelations, its symbols and peculiar claims, it may recjuire 
some corresponding principles of exposition; but none, we believe, 
which require us to turn aside from the propositions here affirmed. 

'"Are the same principles of interpretation to he applied to tlie Scrii)turcs as to 
other boolis ? " Article by I'ldf. M. Sluarl in llu' American Biblical Repository for 
Jan., 1832, pp. 124-126. Sec also Ilahn, On the Grannnatico-Historical Interpretation 
of the Scriptnres, in the same Repository for Jan., 1S31. 




In" a previous chapter of this work' Ave showed how new languages 
originate; how they become modified and changed ; how new dia- 
lects arise, and how, at length, a national form of speech may go 
out of use and become known as a dead language. Attention to 

these facts makes it apparent that any griven lan<ruas-e ^ 

. -^ ^ •' '^ » & Words practical- 

is an accumulation and aggregate of words which a ly the elements 

nation or community of people use for the interchange °^ '^'^suage. 
and expression of their thoughts. "Language," says Whitney, 
"has, in fact, no existence save in the minds and mouths of those 
Avho use it ; it is made up of separate articulated signs of thought, 
each of which is attached by a mental association to the idea it 
represents, is uttered by voluntary effort, and has its value and 
currency only b}^ the agreement of speakers and hearers."^ 

To understand, therefore, the language of a speaker or writer, it 
is necessary, first of all, to know the meaning of his words. The 
interpreter, especially, needs to keep in mind the difference, so fre- 
quently apparent, between the primitive signification of a word 
and that which it subsequently obtains. We first naturally inquire 
after the original meaning of a word, or what is com- ^^ 

^ ° . Etymology, itstts 

monly called its etymology. Next we examme the loqucmu, and 
iisus loqiiendi, or' actual meaning which it bears in com- sy'i^''^y'"«s. 
mon usage; and then we are prepared to understand the occasion 
and import of synonymes, and how a language becomes enriched 
by them. 

Whatever may be the common meaning of a word, as used by a 
particular people or age, it often represents a history. Manirow value 
Language has been significantly characterized as fossil of etymology. 
poetry, fossil history, fossil ethics, fossil philosophy. "This means," 
says Trench, "that just as in some fossil, curious and beautiful 
shapes of vegetable or animal life, the graceful fern, or the finely 
vertebrated lizard, extinct, it may be, for thousands of years, are 
permanently bound up with the stone, and rescued from that per- 
ishing which Avould have otherAvise been theirs, so in Avords are 

' Part I, chap, iii, pp. 72, 73. 

' Language and the Study of Language, p. 35. 


beautiful thoughts and images, the imagination and feeling of past 
ages, of men whose very names have perished, preserved and made 
safe forever.'" Benjamin W. Dwight declares etymology to be 
"fossil poetry, philosophy, and history combined. In the treasured 
words of the past, the very spirits of elder days look out upon us, 
as from so many crystalline spheres, with friendly recognition. We 
see in them the liglit of their cj^es ; we feel in them the warmth of 
their hearts. They are relics, they are tokens, and almost break 
into life again at our touch. The etymologist unites in himself the 
characteristics of the traveller, roaming through strange and far- 
off climes; the philosopher, jurying into the causes and sequences 
of things ; the antiquary, filling his cabinet with ancient curiosities 
and wonders; the historiographer, gathering up the records of by- 
gone men and ages; and the artist, studying the beautiful designs 
in word architecture furnished him by various nations." 

Take, for example, that frequently occurring New Testament 
,„ ^ , word ei,'K?^7]aia, commonly rendered church. Compounded 
of SK, out of, and KaXeiv, to call, or summon, it was nrst 
u;vjd of an assembly of the citizens of a Greek community, sum- 
moned together by a crier, for the transaction of business pertain- 
ing to the public welfare. The preposition ek indicates that it was 
no motley crowd,^ no mass-meeting of nondescripts, but a select 
company gathei'ed out from the common mass; it Avas an assembly 
of free citizens, possessed of well-understood legal rights and 
powers. The verb KaXelv denotes that the assembly was legally 
called (compare the kv r^ evvoixcp eKicX-qaia of Acts xix, 39), sum- 
moned for the purpose of deliberating in lawful conclave. Whether 
the etymological connexion between the Hebrew h^Jl and the Greek 
icaXeTv be vital or merely accidental, the Septuagint translators gen- 
erally render 7ni? by hcicXrjaia, and thus by an obvious process, tTC- 
K/irjala came to represent among the Hellenists the Old Testament 
conception of " the congregation of the people of Israel," as usually 
denoted by the Hebrew word ^n|5. Hence it was natural for Ste- 
phen to speak of the congregation of Israel, which Moses led out of 
Egypt, as " the eKtcXTjota in the wilderness" (Acts vii, 38), and equal- 
ly natural for the word to become the common designation of the 
Christian community of converts from Judaism and the world. 
Into this New Testament sense of the word, it was also important 
that the full force of ^« and KaXeiv [aXijai^, KXrjrog) should continue. 

'Tlic Study of Words. Introductory Lecture, p. 12. New York, 1801. 
' Article on The Science of Etymology, in Bibliotheca Sacra, April, 1858, p. 438. 
' Compare the coiifused assembly^ tj iKK\i]aia avvKexv/itvT}, composed of the multitude, 
6 ox^og, in Acts xix, 32, 33, 40. 


As the old Greek assembly was called by a public herald {Ki]pv^), so 
"the Church of God (or of the Lord), Avliich he purchased with his 
own blood" (Acts xx, 28), is tlie congregation of those who are 
"called to be saints" {K.XrjTol ay lot, Rom. i, 7), "called out of dark- 
ness into his marvellous light" (1 Pet. ii, 9), called "unto his king- 
dom and glory" (1 Thess. ii, 12), and called by the voice of an au- 
thorized herald or preacher (Rom. x, 14, 15; 1 Tim. ii, 7).^ With 
this fundamental idea the church may denote either the small as- 
sembly in a private house (Rom. xvi, 5 ; Philemon 2), the Christian 
congregations of particular towns and cities (1 Cor. i, 2 ; 1 Thess. 
i, 1), or the Church universal (Eph. i, 22; iii, 21). But a new idea is 
added when our Lord says, " I will build my Church " (Matt, xvi, 18). 
Here the company of the saints {kXtjtoI ayioi) is conceived of as a 
house, a stately edifice ; and it was peculiai-ly fitting that Peter, the 
disciple to whom these words were addressed, should afterward 
write to the general Church, and designate it not only as "a chosen 
generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation," but also as " a spir- 
itual house," builded of living stones (1 Pet. ii, 5, 9). Paul also 
uses the same grand image, and speaks of the household of God as 
"having been built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, 
Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone, in wliora all the 
building, fitly framed together, grows unto a living temple in the 
Lord" (Eph. ii, 20, 21). And then again, to this image of a build- 
ing (comp. 1 Cor. iii, 9) he also adds that of a living liuman body 
of which Christ is the head, defining the Avhole as "his bod}", the 
fulness (7rA?/pW|wa) of him who fills all things in all" (Eph. i, 23). 
Comp. also Rom. xii, 5; 1 Cor. xii, 12-28; and Col. i, 18. 

Observe also the forms and derivatives of the Hebrew "i;3, to 
cover. The primary meaning is to cover over, so as to ^j^^^ ^^^ ^^^^_ 
hide from view. The ark was thus covered or over- eri?ig of atone- 
laid with a covering of some material like pitch (Gen. m^^i^t. 
vi, 14). Then it came to be used of a flower or shrub, with the 
resin or powder of which oriental females are said to have covered 
and stained their finger nails (Cant, i, 14). Again w^e find it ap- 
plied to villages or liamlets (1 Sam. vi, 18; 1 Chron. xxvii, 25), ap- 
parently, as Gesenius suggests, because such places were regarded 
as a covering or shelter to the inhabitants. The verb is also used 
of the abolishing or setting aside of a covenant (Isa. xxviii, 18). 
But the deeper meaning of the word is that of covering, or hiding 
sin, and thus making an atonement. Thus Jacob thought to cover 
his brother Esau with a. present (Gen. xxxii, 20). His words are, 
literally, " I will cover his face with the present which goes before 

' A similar interesting history attaches to the words Kf/pv^ and Kjjpvaau. 


me, and afterward I will see bis face ; perhaps he will lift up my 
face." Feeling that he had sorely wronged his brother, he would 
now fain cover his face with such a princely gift that Esau would 
no more behold those wrongs of the past. His old offences being 
thus hidden, he hopes to be permitted to see his brother's face in 
peace ; and perhaps even Esau will condescend to lift up his face — 
raise from the dust the face of the prostrate and penitent Jacob. 
The transition was easy from this use of the verb to that of making 
an atonement, a meaning vrhich it constantly conveys in the books 
of the law (Lev. xvii, 11). And hence the use of the noun ipi) in 
the sense of ransom, satisfaction (Exod. xxx, 12), and the plural 
D^'iM, atonements (Exod. xxx, 10; Lev. xxiii, 27, 28). Hence, 
also, that word of profound significance, 0^33, capporeth, the 
mercy-seat, the lid or cover of the ark which contained the tables 
of the law (Exod. xxv, 17-22) — the symbol of mercy covering 

Additional interest is given to the study of words by the science 
of comparative philology. In tracing a word through 
parativephiioi- a whole family of languages, we note not only the va- 
°^' riety of forms it may have taken, but the different 

usage and shades of meaning it acquired among different peoples. 
The Hebrew words 3X, father, and }?, son, are traceable through 
all the Semitic tongues, and maintain their common signification in 
all. The Greek word for heart, KagSia, appears also in the Sanskrit 
hrid, Latin cor, Italian cuore, Spanish corasow, Portuguese, cora^am, 
French cmur, and English core. Some words, especially verbs, ac- 
quire new meanings as they pass from one language to another. 
Hence the meaning Avhich a word bears in Arabic or Syriac may not 
be the meaning it was designed to convey in Hebrew. Tims the 
Hebrew word "V^V is frequently used in the Old Testament in the sense 
to stand, to be firm, to stand ifj); and this general idea can be traced 
in the corresponding word and its derivatives in the Arabic, Etlii- 
opie (to ereet a column, to establish), Chaldee (to rise ttp), Samari- 
tan and Talnuidic; but in the Syriac it is the word commonly used 
for baj>t>sn>. Some say this was because the candidate stood wliilc 
he was baj)tized; others, that the idea associated with baptism was 
that of confirming or est((blishing in the faith; while others believe 
tliat the Syriac word is to be traced to a different root. Whatever 
be the true explanation, it is easy to see that the same word may 
have different meanings in cognate languages, and, therefore, a sig- 
nification which appears in Arabic or Syriac may be very remote 
from that which the word holds in the Hebrew. Hence great cau- 
tion is necessary in tracing etymologies. 


It is well known that, in all languages, the origin of many 
words has become utterly lost. The wonder, indeed, Rare words 
is that we are able to trace the etymology of such a tmda-af ae/- 
large proportion. The extensive literature of the Greek °f^^^"- 
language enables the New Testament interpi-eter to ascertain 
without much difficulty the roots and usage of most of the words 
with which he has to deal. But the Old Testament ScrijDtures em- 
body substantially all the remains of the Hebrew language, and when 
we meet with a word which occurs but once in the entire literature 
extant, we may often be puzzled to know the exact meaning vfhich 
it was intended to convey. In such cases help from cognate 
tongues is particularly important. The word D^D, in Gen. xxviii, 
12, occurs nowhere else in Hebrew. The root appears to be hh^, to 
cast up, to raise; and from the same root comes the word n^DO, used 
of public highxoays (Judg. xx, 32; Isa. xl, 3; Ixii, 10), the ^;ai'/is of 
locusts (Joel ii, 8), the courses of the stars (Jndg. v, 20), and ter- 
races or stainoays to the temple (2 Chron. ix, 11). The Arabic 
word sxillum confirms the sense of stairioay or ladder, and leaves no 
reasonable doubt as to the meaning of sidkun in Gen. xxviii, 12. 
Jacob saw, in his dream, an elevated ladder or stairway reaching 
from the earth to the heavens. In determining the sense of such 
arca^ Aeyofieva, or words occurring but once, we have to be guided 
by the context, by analogy of kindred roots, if any appear in the 
language, by ancient versions of the word in other languages, and 
by whatever traces of the word may be found in cognate tongues. 

One of the most noted of New Testament dira^ key6[.ieva is the 
word eiTiovocov in the Lord's prayer, Matt, vi, 1 1 ; Luke ,„ 
XI, 3. it occurs nowhere else m Greek literature. 1 wo 
derivations have been urged, one from etti and levac, or the partici- 
ple of Ineifu, to yo toward or apjyroach / according to Avhich the 
meaning would be, "give us our coming bread," that is, bread for 
the coming day; to-morrow's bread. This is etymologically possi- 
ble, and, on the ground of analogy, has much in its favour. But 
this meaning does not accord with oijfieQov, this day, occurring in 
the same verse, nor with our Lord's teaching in verse 34 of the 
same chapter. The other derivation is from e-rrt and ovaia, exig- 
ence, sidmsfence (from slfxi, to be), and means that which is necessary 
for existence, " our essential bread." This latter seems bv far the 
more appropriate meaning. 

Another difficult word is TTiuriicog, used only in Mark xiv, 3, and 
John xii, 3, to describe the nard (vaqSog) with which 
Mary anointed the feet of Jesus. It is found in raanu- "^' '^°^' 

scripts of several Greek authors (Plato, Gorgias, 455 a.; Aristotle, 


Rhct. i, 2) apparently as a false reading for TreiariKog, persuasive ; 
but this signitication would have no relevancy to nard. Scaliger 
proposed the meaning potoided nard, deriving TnartKog from Trriaau), 
to pow)d, a possible derivation, but unsupported by any thing anal- 
ogous. Some think the word may be a proper adjective denoting 
the place from which the nard came; i. e., Pistic nard. The Vul- 
gate of John xii, 3, has nardi pistici. This use of the word, how- 
ever, is altogether uncertain. The Vulgate of Mark xiv, 3, has 
spicati, as denoting the spikes or ears of the nard plant; hence the 
\xovA spikenard. But there is no good giound for accepting this 
interpretation. Many derive the word from -rrlvio (or m-iaKO)), to 
drink, and understand drinkable or liquid nard, and urge that sev- 
eral ancient writers affirm that certain anointing oils were used for 
drinking. If such were the meaning here, however, the word 
should refer to the ointment {jivgov), not the nard. The explana- 
tion best suited to the context, and not without warrant in Greek 
usage, makes the Avord equivalent to -morog, faithfid, trusticorthy; 
applied to a material object it would naturally signify genuine, 
pure, that on which one can rely. 

In determining the meaning of compound words we may usually 
resort to the lexical and grammatical analogy of Ian- compound 
guages. The signification of a compound expression is ^o^"^^. 
generally apparent from the import of the different terms of which 
it is compounded. Thus, the word elqrjvonoioi, used in Matt, v, 0, 
is at once seen to be composed o? elp/]vr], j^eace, and noiio), to make, 
and signifies those icho make (work or establish) peace. The mean- 
ing, says Meyer, is "not the peaceful {eIqtjvikoI, James iii, 17; 
2 Mace. V, 25; or elpTjvevovTeg, Sirach vi, 7), a meaning which does 
not appear even in Pollux, i, 41, 152 (Augustine thinks of the moi-al 
inner harmony; De Wette, of the inclination of the contemporaries 
of Jesus to war and tumult; Bleek reminds us of Jewish party 
hatred); but the founders of ])eace (Xen. Hist. Gr., vi, 3, 4; Phit. 
Mor., p. 279 B.; comp. Col. i, 20; Prov. x, 10), Avho as such min- 
ister to God's good pleasui-e, who is the God of peace (Rom. xvi, 
20; 2 Cor, xiii, 11), as Christ himself was the highest founder of 
peace (Luke ii, 14; John xvi, 33; Eph. ii, 14)."' Simihirly we 
judge of tlie meaning of kdeXo&Qr]f>Keia in Col. ii, 23, coinpounded 
of k-&eX(t> and dprjaKFia, and signifying will worship, self-chosen wor- 
ship; TToXvoTTAayxvoc, very compassionate (James v, 11); owav^dv- 
oiiat, to grow together with (Matt, xiii, 30); rponocpoQeo, to bear as 
a. nourisher (Acts xiii, 18), and many other compounds, which, like 
the above, occur but once in the New Testament. 

' Critical and Exegetical Hand-book to the Gospel of Matthew, in loco. 




Some "words have a variety of significations, and hence, whatever 
their primitive meaning, we are obliged to gather from the context, 
and from familiarity with the usage of the language, the particular 
sense which they bear in a given passage of Scripture. Many a 
word in common use has lost its original meaning. „ 

° ^ The meaning of 

How few of those who daily use the word sincere are words becomes 
aware that it was originally applied to pure honey, from ^^^•^^^'^• 
which all wax was purged. Composed of the Latin words sine, 
without, and cera, wax, it appears to have been first used of honev 
strained or separated from the wax-like comb. The word cunninr/ 
no longer means knowledge, or honourable skill, but is generally 
used in a bad sense, as implying artful trickery. The verb let has 
come to mean the very opposite of what it once did, namely to 
hinder; and prevent, which was formerly used in the sense of going 
before, so as to prepare the way or assist one, now means to inter- 
cept or obstruct. Hence the importance of attending to what is 
commonly called the t(S2is loqiiendi, or current usage of Avords as 
employed by a particular writer, or prevalent in a j^articular age. 
It often hajjpens, also, that a writer uses a common word in some 
special and peculiar sense, and then his own definitions must be 
taken, or the context and scope must be consulted, in order to de- 
termine the precise meaning intended. 

There are many ways by which the usiis loquendi of a writer 
may be ascertained. The first and simplest is when he ^ ., 

•' ^ Writer often 

himself defines the terms he uses. Thus the word defines his own 
aciTioq, perfect, complete, occurring only in 2 Tim. iii, 17, *"™^- 
is defined by what immediately follows: "That the man of God 
may be perfect, thoroughly furnished unto every good work." 
That is, he is made perfect or complete in this, that he is thorough- 
ly furnished and fitted, by the varied uses of the insj^ired Scripture, 
to go forward unto the accomplishment of every good work. We 
also find the word reXeioi, commonly rendered perfect, defined in 
Heb. V, 14, as those "who by practice have the senses trained unto a 
discrimination of good and of evil." They are, accordingly, the ma- 
ture and experienced Christians as distinguished from babes, vri-ioi. 


Compare verse 13, and 1 Cor. ii, 6. So also, in Rom. ii, 28, 29, the 
apo.stle defines the genuine Jew and genuine circumcision as fol- 
lows: "For he is not a Jew, who is one outwardly (ev rw (bavepu)); 
nor is that circumcision, which is outward in the liesh : but he is a 
Jew, who is one inwardly (ev roi KpvTrraj) ; and cii'cumcision is that 
of the heart, in the spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not of 
men, hut of God." 

But the immediate context, no less than the writer's own defini- 
immediate tions, generally serves to exhibit any peculiar usage of 
context. words. Thus, TTVEVfia, icind, sjyirit, is used in the New 
Testament to denote the wind (John iii, 8), the vital breath (Rev. 
xi, 11), the natural disposition or temper of mind (Luke ix, 55; Gal. 
vi, 1), the life principle or immortal nature of man (John vi, 63), 
the perfected spirit of a saint in the heavenly life (Heb. xii, 23), 
the unclean spirits of demons (Matt, x, 1 ; Luke iv, 36), and the 
Holy Spirit of God (John iv, 24; Matt, xxviii, 19; Rom. viii, 9-11). 
It needs but a simi^le attention to the context, in any of these pas- 
sages, to determine the particular sense in which the woi-d is used. 
In John iii, 8, we note the two different meanings of nvev^a in one 
and the same verse. "The wind (to irvevfia) blows where it will, 
and the sound of it thou hearest ; but thou knowest not wlience it 
comes and whitlier it goes; so is every one who is born of the 
Spirit" [he rov nvevfiarog) . Bengel holds, indeed, that we should 
here render TTvevjxa in both instances by spirit, and he urges that 
the divine Spirit, and not the wind, has a icill and a voice.^ But 
the groat body of interpreters maintain the common version. Nic- 
odemus was curious and perplexed to know the hoio (ttw^-, verses 4 
and 9) of the Holy Spirit's workings, and as the Almighty of old 
spoke to Job out of the whirlwind, and appealed to the manifold 
mysteries of nature in vindication of his ways, so here the Son of 
God appeals to the mystery in the motion of the wind. " Wouldst 
till) 11 know the whence and whither of tlie Spirit, and yet thou 
knowest not the origin and the end of the common wind? Where- 
fore dost thou not marvel concerning the air which breathes around 
thee, and of which thou livest?" " " Our Lord," says Alford, "might 
liave chosen any of the mysteries of nature to ilhistrate the ])oint. 
lie takes that one which is above others symbolic of the action 
of the Spirit, and which in both languages, that in which lie 
spoke, as well as that in which his speech is reported, is expressed 
by the same word. So that the words as they stand apply them- 
selves at once to the Spirit and his working, witliout any figure."' 

' Gnomon of the Now Testament, in loco. 

* Coiiip. Slier, Words of tlie Lord .To^us, in loi'o. * Greek Testament, in loco. 


The ■svord oroix^^ov, used in classical Greek for the upright post 
of a sundial, then for an elementary sound in language (from let- 
tei's standing in roAVs), came to be used almost solely in tlie plural, 
TO, GTOix^la, in the sense of elements or rudinie7its. In 2 Pet. iii, 10 
it evidently denotes the elements of nature, the component parts 
of the physical universe ; but in Gal. iv, 3, 9, as the immediate con- 
text shows, it denotes the ceremonials of Judaism, considered as 
elementary object lessons, adapted to the capacity of children. 
In this sense the word may also denote the ceremonial elements in 
the religious cultus of the heathen world (compare verse 8).^ 
The enlightened Christian should grow out of these, and pass be- 
yond them, for otherwise they trammel, and become a s3"stem of 
bondage. Compare also the use of the word in Col. ii, 8, 20 and 
Heb. V, 12. 

In connexion with the immediate context, the nature of the sub- 
ject may also determine the usage of a Avord. Thus, in Mature of the 
2 Cor. V, 1, 2, the reference of the words oiKia, house, subject. 
OKTjvog, tabernacle, oIko6o^i], buildiur/, and ohrj-j'jQiov, habitation, to 
the body as a covering of the soul hardl}^ admits of question. The 
whole passage (verses 1-4) reads literally thus : " For we know that 
if our house of the tabernacle upon earth were dissolved, 

.2 Cor V, 1-4. 

a building from God we have, a house not made with 
hands, eternal, in the heavens. For also in this we groan, yearning 
to be clothed upon with our habitation which is from heaven, since 
indeed also (eb/e Kat) being clothed we shall not be found naked. 
For, indeed, we who are in the tabernacle groan, being burdened, 
in that Ave Avould not be unclothed, but clothed upon, to the end 
that that AA-hich is mortal may be SAA^allowed up by the life." Hodge 
holds that the "building from God" is heaven itself, and argues 
that in John xiv, 2, heaven is compared to a house of many man- 
sions ; in Luke xvi, 9, to a habitation ; and in Heb. xi, 10, and Rev. 
xxi, 10, to a city of dAA^ellings.' But the scripture in question is too 
explicit, and the nature of the subject too limited, to alloAV other 
scriptures, like those cited, to determine its meaning. No one 
doubts that the phrase, "our house of the tabernacle upon earth," 
refers to the human body, Avhich is liable to dissolution. It is com- 
pared to a tent, or tabernacle (ofcrivog), and also to a vesture, thus 
presenting us with a double metaphor. "The word tent," says 
Stanley, "lent itself to this imagery, from being used in later Greek 
writers for the human body, especially in medical Avriters, Avho 
seem to have been led to adopt the word from the skin-maierisds 

' Corap. Lightfoot's Commentary on Galatians iv, 11. 
^ Commentary on Second Corinthians, in loco. 


of which tents were eomposGcl. The explanation of this abrupt 
transition from the figure of a house or tent to that of a garment, 
may be found in the image, familiar to the apostle, both from his 
occupations and his birthplace, of the tent of Cilician hairclotli, 
which might almost equally suggest the idea of a habitation and of 
a vesture. Compare the same union of metaphors in Psa. civ, 2, 
' "Who coverest thyself with light as with a garment ; who stretch- 
est out the heavens like a curtain' (of a tent)."^ 

The main subject, then, is the present body considered as an 
earthly house, a tabernacle upon earth. In it we groan; in it we 
are under burden; in it we endure "the momentary lightness of our 
afHiction " {rd napavrUa eXatppbv rrjq ■dUxpeo)g), which is mentioned 
in chapter iv, 17, and which is there set in contrast with an "eter- 
nal weight of glory" {alu}viov fidpog Sd^rjg). To this earthly house, 
heaven itself, whether considered as the house of many mansions 
(John xiv, 2) or the city of God (Rev. xxi, 10), affords no true 
antithesis. The true antithesis is the heavenly body, the vesture 
of immortality, which is from God. For the opposite of our house 
is the building fro)ii God ; the one may be dissolved, the other is 
eternal ; the one is iqjon earth [eTrlyeiog), the other is (not heaven 
itself, but) in the heavens. The true parallel to the entire passage 
before us is 1 Cor. xv, 47-54, where the earthly and the heavenly 
bodies are contrasted, and it is said (ver. 53) " this corruptible 
must be clothed with incorruption, and this mortal must be clothed 
with immortality." 

The above example also illustrates how antithesis, contrast, or 
Contrast or op- Opposition, may serve to determine the meaning of 
position. words. A further instance may be cited from Rom. 

viii, 5-8. In verse 4 the apostle has introduced the antithetic ex- 
pressions Kara odpKa, and Kara Tzvevfia, according to the flesh and 
according to the spirit. He then proceeds to define, as by contrast, 
the two characters. " For they who are according to the flesh the 
things of the flesh do mind {(j)Qovovatv, think of, care for), but they, 
according to the spirit, the things of the spirit. For the mind of 
the flesh is death, but the mind of the spirit life and peace. Be- 
cause the mind of the flesh is enmity toward God, for to the law of 
God it does not submit itself, for it is not able; and they who are 
in the flesh are not able to please God." The spirit, throughout 
this passage, is to be understood of the Holy Spirit: "the Spirit 
of life in Christ Jesus," mentioned in verse 2, which delivers the 
sinner "from tlie law of sin and of death." The being according 
to the flesh, and the being iji the flesh, are to be understood of 
' Commentary on St. Paul's Epistles to the Coriiithiiuis, in loco. 


iinrecrenerate and unsanctified human life, conditioned and controlled 
by carnal principles and motives. This Scripture, and more that 
might be cited, indicates, by detailed opposition and contrast, the 
essential and eternal antagonism between sinful carnality and re- 
deemed spirituality in human life and character. 

The tisus loquendi of many words may be seen in the parallelisms 
of Hebrew j^oetry. Whether the parallelism be synon- Hebrew parai 
ymous or antithetic,' it may serve to exhibit in an leiisms. 
unmistakable way the general import of the terms emjiloyed. 
Take, for example, the following passage from the eighteenth 
Psalm, verses 6-15 (Heb. 7-16): 

6 In my distress I call Jehovah, 
And to my God I cry ; 

He liears from his sanctuary my voice, 
And my cry before him comes into his ears. 

7 Then shakes and quakes the land, 

And the foundations of the mountains tremble, 
And they shake themselves, for he was angry. 

8 Tl:erc went up a smoke in his nostril, 
And fire from his mouth devours; 
Hot coals glowed from him. 

9 And he bows the heavens and comes down, 
And a dense gloom under his feet; 

10 And he rides upon a cherub, and flies, 
And soars upon the wings of the wind. 

11 lie sets darkness his covei-ing, 
His pavilion round about him, 

A darkness of waters, thick clouds of the skies. 

12 From the brightness Iiefore him his thick clouds passed away, 
Hail, and hot coals of fire. 

13 Then Jehovah thunders in the heavens, 
And the Most Hiyl) gives forth his voice, 
Hail, and hot coals of fire. 

14 And he sends forth Ids arrows and scatters them, 
And lightnings he shot, and puts tliem in commotion. 

15 And the beds of tlie waters are seen. 

And the foundations of the worhl are uncovered, 

From thy rebuke, O Jehovah! 

From the breath of tlie wind of thy nostril. 

It requires but little attention here to observe how such words as 
call, cry, he hears my voice, and "tny cry comes into his ears (verse 6), 
mutually explain and illustrate one another. The same may be 
said of the words shakes, quakes, tremble, and shake themselves, in 

' On Hebrew Parallelisms, see pp. 95-98. 


verse 7; smolce, fire^ and coals in verse 8; rides, fl^^s, and soars in 
verse 10; arrous and U<jhtni)igs, scatters and puts in commotion, in 
verse 14; and so to some extent of the varied expressions of nearly 
every versa. 

Here, too, may be seen how suhject and predicate serve to ex- 
„ ^. , ,. plain one another. Thus, in verse 8, above, snwue goes 

Subject, predi- -i _ ' ' . 

cate, and ad- lip, fire devours, hot coals glotc. So in Matt, v, 13: 
juncts. u-£ ^j^g g^l^ beeome tasteless," the sense of the verb 

fiiOQavdrj, become tasteless, is determined by the subject dXag, salt. 
But in Rom. i, 22, the import of this same verb is to become fool- 
ish, as the whole sentence shows: "Professing to be wise, they 
become foolish," i. e., made fools of themselves. The word is 
used in a similar signification in 1 Cor. i, 20: "Did not God make 
foolish the wisdom of the world? " The extent to which qualify- 
ing words, as adjectives and adverbs, serve to limit or define the 
meaning is too apparent to call for special illustration. 

A further and most important method, of ascertaining the usus 
, loquendi is an extensive and careful comparison of sim- 

Conipanson of _ -^ ... 

pai-aiiei pas- ilar or parallel passages of Scripture. When a writer 
sages. j^^g treated a given subject in different parts of his 

writings, or when different writers have treated the same subject, it 
is both justice to the writers, and important in interpretation, to 
collate and compare all that is written. The obscure or doubtful 
passages are to be explained by what is plain and simple. A sub- 
ject may be only incidentally noticed in one place, but be treated 
with extensive fulness in another. Thus, in Kom. xiii, 12, we have 
the exhortation, "Let us put on the armour of light," set forth 
merely in contrast with "cast off the works of darkness;" but if 
we inquire into the meaning of this "armour of light," how much 
more fully and forcibly does it impress us when we compare the 
detailed description given in Ephesians vi, 13-17: "Take up the 
whole armour of God. . . . Stand, therefore, having girded your 
loins with truth, and having put on the breastplate of righteous- 
ness, and having shod your feet with the preparation of the gospel 
of peace; withal taking up the shield of faith wherewith ye shall 
be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the 
helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word 
of God." Compare also 1 Thess. v, 8. 

The meaning of the word ti'^JX (compare the Greek voaog) in Jer. 
xvii, 9, must be determined by ascertaining its use in other pas- 
sages. The common version translates it " desperately Avicked," 
but usage does not sustain this meaning. The j)rimary sense of 
the word apj^ears to be incurably sick, or diseased. It is used in 


2 Sam, xii, 15, to describe the condition of David's child v/hcn 
smitten of the Lord so that it became very sick (t^^J^"'). It is used 
in reference to the lamentable idolatry of the kingdom of Israel 
(Micah i, 9), where the common version renders, " Her wound is m- 
curahle,'''' and gives in the margin, " She is grievously sick of her 
wounds." The same signification a^^pears also in Job xxxiv, 6: 
" My wound ("'ifn, wound caused by an arrow) is incurable." In 
Isa> xvii, 11, we have the thought of " incurable jiain," and in Jer. 
XV, 18, we read, " Wherefore has my pain been enduring, and my 
stroke incurable?" Compare also Jer. xxx, 12, 15. In Jer. xvii, 
16, the prophet uses this word to characterize the day of grievous 
calamity as a day of mortal sickness (K'lJwX DV). In the ninth verse, 
therefore, of the same chapter, where the deceitful heart is charac- 
terized by this word, which everywhere else maintains its original 
sense of a diseased and incurable condition, we should also adhere 
to the main idea made manifest by all these parallels: "Deceitful 
is the heart above everything; and incurably diseased is it; mIio 
knows it ? ' 

The xisus loqiiendi of common words is, of course, to be as- 
certained by the manner and the connection in which General and 
they are generally used. We feel at once the incon- familiar usage, 
gruity of saying, " Adriansz or Lippersheim discovered the tele- 
scope, and Harvey invented the circulation of the blood." We 
know from familiar usage that discover applies to tlie finding out 
or uncovering of that which was in existence before, but was hid- 
den from our view or knowledge, while the word invent is applica- 
ble to the contriving and constructing of something which had no 
actual existence before. Thus, the astronomer invents a telescoj^e, 
and by its aid discovers the motions of the stars. The passage in 
1 Cor. xiv, 34, S5, has been wrested to mean something else than 
the prohibition of women's speaking in the public assemblies of 
churches. Some have assumed that the words churches and church 
in these verses are to be understood of the business meetings of the 
Christians, in which it was not proper for the v/omen to take part. 
But the entire context shows that the apostle has espe(!ially in 
mind the worshipping assembly. Others have sought in the word 
XaXelv a peculiar sense, and, finding that it bears in classic Greei; 
writers the meaning of babble, prattle, they have strangely taugbt 
that Paul means to say: "Let your women keep silence in the 
churches; for it is not permitted them to babble. . . . For it is a 
shame for a woman to babble in church!" A sliorht examination 
shows that in this same chapter the word XaX€iv, to sjicak, occui's 

' On the importance of comparing parallel passages, see further in Chapter vlii. 


more than twenty times, and in no instance is there any necessity 
or reason to understand it in other tlian its ordinary sense of dis- 
eoursing, ftpeakiur/. Who, for instance, would accuse Paul of say- 
ing, " I thank God, 1 babble with tongues more than ye all " (verse 
18); or "let two or three of -the prophets babble, and the others 
judge" (verse 29)? Hence appears the necessity, in interpreta- 
tion, of observing the general usage rather than the etymology of 


In ascertaining the meaning of rare words, d~a^ Xeyo^eiu, or 
Ancient ver- Avords wliich occur but once, and words of doubtful 
sions. import, the ancient versions of Scripture furnish an im- 

portant aid. For, as Davidson well observes, "An interpreter 
cannot arrive at the right meaning of every part of the Bible by 
the Bible itself. Many portions are dark and ambiguous. Even 
in discovering the correct sense, no less than in defending the 
truth, other means are needed. Numerous passages will be abso- 
lutely unintelligible without such helps as lie out of the Scriptures. 
The usages of the Hebrew and Hebrew-Greek languages cannot be 
fully known by their existing remains.' 

In the elucidation of difficult words and phrases the Septuagint 
translation of the Old Testament holds the first rank among the 
ancient versions. It antedates all existing Hebrew manuscripts; 
and parts of it, especially the Pentateuch, belong, without much 
doubt, to the third century before the Christian era. Philo and 
Josephus appear to have made more use of it than they did of the 
Hebrew original; the Ilellonistic Jews used it in their synagogues, 
and the New Testament writers frequently quote from it. Being 
made by Jewish scholars, it serves to show how before the time 
of Christ the Jews interi)reted their Scriptures. Next in imj)ort- 
ance to the Septuagint is the Vulgate, or Latin Version, largely 
prepared in its present form by St. Jerome, who derived much 
knowledge and assistance from the Jew s of his time. After these 
we place the Peshito-Syriac Version, the Targums, or Chaldee Par- 
aphrases of the Old Testament, especiall}' that of Onkelos on the 
Pentateuch, and Jonathan Bi-n Uzziel on the Prophets, and the 
Greek versions of Aquila, Symmachus, and Theodotion.^ The other 
ancient versions, such as the Arabic, Coptic, yEthiopic, Armenian, 
and Gothic, are of less value, and, in determining the meaniiig of 
rare words, cannot be relied on as having any considerable weight 
or authority. 

' Hermencutics, pajje 616. 

' On the histoiv and character of all these ancient versions, see Hannan's, Keil's, 
or IJleck's " Introduction ; " also the various biblical dictionaries and cyclop;edias. 


A study and comparison of these ancient versions will show that 
they often differ very widely. In many instances it is 
easy to see, in the light of modern researches, that the sions often dif- 
old translators fell into grave errors, and were often at ^^' 
a loss to determine the meaning of rare and doubtful w^ords. When 
the context, parallel passages, and several of the versions agree in 
giving the same signification to a word, that signification may gen- 
erally be relied upon as the true one. But when the w^ord is an 
cTTaf Xeyofievov, and the passage has no parallel, and the versions 
vary, great caution is necessary lest we allow too much authority 
to one or more versions, wdiich, after all, may have been only con- 

The following examples will illustrate the use, and the interest 
attaching to the study, of the ancient versions. In the Authorized 
English Version of Gen. i, 2, the w^ords irinj ^rin are translated, 
vnthout form and void. The Targum of Onkelos has N"'Jp"'"il t;nv, 
loaste and empty; the Vulgate: inanis et vacua, empty and void ; 
Aquila: Kevojf^ia koI ovSev, e7nptlness and nothing. Thus, all these 
versions substantially agree, and the meaning of the Hebrew words 
is now allowed to be desolation and emj^tiiiess. The Syriac merely 
repeats the Hebrew words, but the Septuagint reads aoQarot; nal 
dKaraGKevafTTog, invisible and -unformed, and cannot be allow^ed to 
set aside the meaning presented in all the other versions. 

In Gen. xlix, 6, the Septuagint gives the more correct translation 
of "li'^ ^"lipj^, they houghed an ox, evevpoKonrjaav ravgov; but the Clial- 
dee, Syriac, Vulgate, Aquila, and Symmachus read, like the Au- 
thorized Version, they digged doion a vxdl. Here, however, the au- 
thority of versions is outweighed by the fact that, in all other 
passages where the Piel of this word occurs, it means to hamstring 
or hough an animal. Compare Josh, xi, 6, 9; 2 Sam. viii, 4; 1 Chron. 
xviii, 4. Where the usus loquendi can thus be determined from the 
language itself, it has more weight than the testimony of many 

The versions also differ in the rendering of n35fy in Psa. xvi, 4. 
This word elsewhere (Job ix, 28; Psa. cxlvii, 3; Prov. x, 10;' xv, 13) 
alwavs means sorrow : but the form yiV means idols, and the Chal- 

• ^ T T ' 

dee, Symmachus, and Theodotion so render ri^Sfy in Psa. xvi, 4 : they 
mnltiplg their idols, or many are their idols. But the Septuagint, 
Vulgate, Syriac, Arabic, Ethiopic, and Aquila, render the word sor- 
rotes, and this meaning is best sustained by the usage of the lan- 

In Cant, ii, 12, "I'Pjn ^V. is rendered by the Septuagint Katpog TTjg 
roixTjg, time of the cutting ; Symmachus, time of the pruning {nXa- 


devaeug) ; so also the Yulgate, te7npus putalionis. Most modern in- 
terpreters, however, discard these ancient versions here, and under- 
stand the words to mean, t/ie time of song is come/ not merely or pnr- 
ticularly the suKjinr/ of hinh, as the English version, but all the 
glad songs of springtime, in which shepherds and husbandmen alike 
rejoice. In this interpretation they are governed by the considera- 
tion that T'OT and nil'DT signify song and songs in 2 Sam. xxiii, 1; 
Job XXXV, 10; Psa. xcv, 2; cxix, 54; Isa. xxiv, 16; xxv, 5, and that 
when "the blossoms have been seen in the land" the pruning time 
is altogether past. 

In Isa. Hi, 13 all the ancient versions except the Chaldee render the 
word h'y~T in the sense of acting loisely. This fact gives great weight 
to tliat interpretation of the word, and it ought not to be set aside 
by the testmiony of one version, and by the opinion, Avhich is open 
to question, that i^'Sy'* is in some passages equivalent to n7Vn, to 

From the above examples it may be seen Avhat judgment and 
caution arc necessary in the use of the ancient versions of the Bible. 
In fact, no specific rules can safely be laid down to govern us in 
the use of them. Sometimes the etymology of a word, or the con- 
text, or a parallel passage may have more weight than all the ver- 
sions combined; while in other instances the reverse may be true. 
Where the versions are conflicting, the context and the analogy of 
the language must generally be allowed to take the precedence. 

In ascertaining the meaning of many Greek words the ancient 
Glossaries and glossaries of Hesychius, Suidas, Photius, and others are 
schoiia. useful ; but as they treat very few of the obscure words 

of the New Testament, they are of comparatively little value to 
the biblical interpreter. Scholia, or brief critical notes on portions 
of the New Testament, extracted chiefly from the writings of the 
Greek Fathers, such as Origen and Chrysostom, occasionally serve 
a good purpose,' but they have been superseded by the moj'e thor- 
ough and scholarly researches of modern times, and the results of 
this research are en^bodied in the leading critical commentaries and 
biblical lexicons of the present day. Tlie Rabbinical commentaries 
of Aben-Ezra, Jarchi, Kimchi, and Tanchum are ofien found ser- 
viceable in the exposition of the Old Testament. 

' The commentaries of Theodoret and Thcophylact are largely composed of extracts 
from Chrysostom. To the same class belong the commentaries of Eiithymius, Zigii- 
benus, U']cumenius, Andreas, and Arcthas. The Catenae of the (Jreek Fathers by 
Procopius, Olympiodorus, and Nicephonis treat several books of the Old Testament. 
The celelM-atcd (.'atena Aiirca of Thomas Aquinas covers the Four Gospels, and was 
translated and published at Oxford iu 1845 bv J. II. Newman. 




Words, being the conventional signs and representatives of ideas, 
are changeable in both form and meaning by reason of the changes 
constantly taking place in human society. In pi'ocess of time the 
same word will be applied to a variety of uses, and come to have a 
variety of meanings. Thus, the name board, another 
form of the word broad, was originally applied to a piece have many 
of timber, hewed or sawed so as to form a wide, thin "•^'''"i"?'*- 
plank. It was also applied to a table on w^hich food was placed, 
and it became common to speak of gathering around the festive 
board. Thence it came by a natural process to be applied to the 
food which was placed upon the table, and men were said to work 
or pay for their board. By a similar association the word was also 
applied to a body of men who were wont to gather around a table 
to transact business, and hence Ave have board of trustees, board 
of commissioners. The word is also used for the deck of a ^ essel ; 
hence the terms on board, overboard, and some other less common 
nautical expressions. Thus it often hapf)ens, that the original 
meaning of a word falls into disuse, and is forgotten, while 
* later meanings become current, and find a multitude and variety of 
applications. But while a single word may thus come to have many 
meanings, it also happens that a number of diiferent Vv^ords are used 
to designate the same, or nearly the same, thing. By such a multi- 
plication of terms a language becomes greatly enriched, and capable 
of expressing more minutely the different shades and aspects of any 

particular idea. Thus in English we have the words „ 

^ . 7 , y Several words 

wonder, siayrise, admiration, astotiis/im.enf, and amaze- of like mean- 

inenf, all conveying the same general thought, but distin- ^^^' 

guishable by different shades of meaning. The same is true of the 

words axiom, maxim, ajjhorism, apothegm, adage, proverb, byword, 

saying, and saio. Such words are called synonymes, and they 

abound in all cultivated languages. The biblical interpreter needs 

discernment and skill to determine the nice distinctions and shades 

of meaning attaching to Hebrew and Greek synonymes. Often the 

exact point and pith of a passage will be missed by failing to make 

the proper discrimination between synonymous expressions. There 


are, for instance, eleven diffei-ent Hebrew words used in the Old 
Testament for kindling a Jire, or setting on Jire,^ and seven Greek 
words used in the New Testament for prayer ;'^ and yet a careful 
study of these several terms will show that they all vary somewhat 
in signification, and serve to set forth so many different shades of 
thouglit or meaning. 

AVe take, for illustration, the different Hebrew words which are 
used to convey the general idea of killing, or putting 
for putting to to death. The verb ^Pi? occurs but three times in the 
death. Hebrew Scriptures, and means in every case to kill by 

putting an end to one's existence. The three instances are the fol- 
lowing: Job xiii, 15, "If he kill me," or "Lo, let him kill me;" and 
Job xxiv, 14, "At light will the murderer rise up; he will kill the 
poor and needy;" and Psa. cxxxix, 19, "Thou wilt kill the wicked, 
, O God." The primary idea of the word, according to 

-^ Gesenius, is that of cutting ; hence cutting off; making 

an end of by destruction. So the noun h^\>^ is used in Obadiah 9 in 
connexion with TTQ, cut off — "shall be cut off by slaughter ;'' i. e., 
by a general destruction. In the Chaldee chapters of Daniel the 
verb ^tpp is used in a variety of foi-ms seven times, but it seems to 
retain in every instance essentially the same meaning as the Hebrew 
verb. The simple fact of the killijig or cutting off is stated without 
any necessary irai^lication as to the method or occasion of the act. 
The word more commonly used to denote jnitting to death is (the 
-.,p_ Iliphil, Ilophal, and some of the rarer forms of) rm, to 
«.J- <-^i'&- The grammatical structure of the lanoruage en- 
ables us at once to perceive that the prnnary idea m 
the use of this word is that of causing to die. Thus, in Josh, x, 20 
and xi, IV, it is used to denote the result of violent smiting (n33) : 
"Joshua smote them and caused them to die;'''' "All their kings lie 
took, and he smote them and caused them to die.'''' Compare 1 Sam. 
xvii, 50; xxii, 18; 2 Sara, xviii, 15 ; 2 Kings xv, 10, 14. In short, 
the distinguishing idea of this Avord, as used for killing, is that of 
putting to death, or causing to die, by some violent and deadly 
measure. In this sense the word is used in the Old 'Testament 
Scriptures over two hundred tiirics. The prominent thought in 7l?i^ 
is merely that of cutting off; getting one out of the way ; while in 
n^pn and n'3in the idea of death, as the result of some fatal means 
and procedure, is more noticeable. Tlie murderer or tlie assassin 
kills \?^\>) his victim or enemy; the warrior, the ruler, and the Lord 
himself, causes to die, or puts to death (JT'Jpn) Avhom he will, and he 

' Namely: "ilX, I^D, pH, mn, m'\ '^\>\ DH^, pl''^, mp, "lt3p, ^"i^- 
' 'Evxv, 7Tpoaevx>'/, 6ej/aig, Ivtev^i^, EvxnpioTla, al-rifia, and iKeTjjpla. 


perforins the act by some certain means (specified or unspecified), 
which will accomplish the desired result. The latter word is ac- 
cordingly used of public executions, the slaughter involved in war 
and the putting to death for the maintenance of some principle 
or the attainment of some ulterior end. It is never used to ex- 
press the idea of murder ; but God himself says : " I put to death " 
(Deut. xxxii, 39). Compare 1 Sam. ii, 6 ; 2 Kino-s v 7 * Hosea 
ix, IG. 

Another word for killing is J"in. Unlike fl^on, it may be used for 
private homicide, or murder (Gen. iv, 8; xxvii, 41), or 
assassination (2 Chron. xxiv, 25 ; 2 Kino-s x, 9), or gen- "'^ 

eral slaughter and massacre (Judges viii, 11; Esther ix, 15). The 
slaying it denotes may be done by the sword (1 Kings ii, 32), or by 
a stone (Judges ix, 54), or a spear (2 Sam. xxiii, 21), or by the word 
of Jehovah (Hos. vi, 5), or even by grief, or a viper's tongue (Job 
v,"2; XX, 16). But the characterizing idea of the word, as distin- 
guished from n^pn and b^\>, seems to be that of wholesale or vengeful 
slaughter. Thus Jehovah slew all the firstborn of Egypt (Exod. 
xiii, 15), but the slaughter was a vengeful judgment-stroke, a 
plague. Thus Simeon and Levi slew the men of Shechera, and that 
slaughter was a cruel and vindictive massacre (Gen. xxxiv, 26 ; 
xlix, 6). This word is used of the slaughter of Jehovah's prophets 
by Jezebel, and of the prophets of Baal by Elijah (1 Kings xix, 
1, 10), and in this sense generally, whether the numbers slain be 
few or many. Compare Jiidges viii, IV, 21; Esther ix, 6, 10, 12; 
Ezek. ix, 6. In Isa. xxii, 13 the word is used of the slaughter 
of oxen, but the context shows that the slaughter contemplated 
was on a large scale, at a time of feasting and revelry. So, 
again, in Psa, Ixxviii, 47, we read: "He slays with hail their 
vines," but the passage is poetical, and the thought is that of a 
sweej^ing destruction, by which vines and trees, as well as other 
things that suffered in the plagues of Egypt, were, so to speak, 

nVT has the primary signification of crushing, a violent breaking 
in pieces, and is generally used to denote the act of 
miirder or numslavghter in any degree. This is the 
word used in the commandment, " Thou shalt not commit murder " 
(Exod. XX, 13; Deut. v, 17); less properly translated, "Thou shalt 
not Idll^'' for often to hill is not necessarily to murder. In Num. 
XXXV the participial form of tlie word is used over a dozen times 
to denote the manslayer, who flees to a city of refuge, and twice 
(verses 27, 30) the verb is used to denote the execution of such 
manslayer by the avenger of blood. 


The "word nnD is used for the slaying of miimals, especially in 
preparation for a feast. It corresponds more nearly with 
the word butcher. Thus, when Joseph's brethren came, 
brino-ino- Benjamin with them, Joseph commanded the ruler of his 
house to bring the men to the house, and kill a killing (n3'0 nip, 
Gen. xliii, 16). Compare 1 Sam. xxv, 11; Prov. ix, 2. When the 
word is applied to the slaughter of men it is always with the idea 
that they are slaughtered or butchered like so many animals (Psa. 
xxxvii, 14; Jer. li, 40; Lam. ii, 21; Ezek. xxi, 10, (lo). 

A kindred word is n3T, used of the sacrificing of animals for offer- 
ings. It is thus ever associated with the idea of im- 
molation, and the derivative noun nni means a sacrificial 
offering to God. *' This verb," says Gesenius, *' is not used of the 
priests as slaughtering victims in sacrifice, but of private persons 
offering sacrifices at their own cost." Compare Gen. xxxi, 54; Exod. 
viii, 29, (25); 1 Sam. xi, 15; 2 Chron. vii, 4; xxxiii, 17; Ezek. xx, 
28; lios. xiii, 2; Jon. i, 16. 

Another word, constantly used in connection with the kilUng of 
v.p.f^ animals for sacrifice, is Drit?^; but it differs from n3T 
especially in this, that the latter emphasizes rather the 
idea of sacrifice, while tint?^ points more directly to the slaughter of 
the victim. Hence n^T is often used intransitively, in the sense 
of offering sacrifice, without specifying the object sacrificed; but 
£2nL*> is always transitive, and connected Avith the object slain. 
This latter word is often applied to the slaying of persons (Gen. 
xxii, 10; 1 Kings xviii, 40; 2 Kings x, 7, 14; Isa. Ivii, 5; Ezek. 
xvi, 21), but in a sacrificial sense, as the immediate context shows. 
Judg. xii, 6, would seem to be an exception, but the probable 
thought there is that the Ephraimites who could not pronounce the 
" Shibboleth " were slain as so many human sacrifices. 

Thus cacli of these seven Hebrew Avords, all of Avhich involve the 
idea of killing or slauglder, has its own distinct shade of meaning 
and manner of usage. 

The Hebrew language has twelve different words to express the 
Hebrew words idea of Sin. First, there is the verb NDH, Avhich, like 
for sin. |.]^g Greek ditaQ-dvo), means, primarily, to tniss a mark, 

and is so used (in lliphil) in Judg. xx, 16, Avhere mention is made 
of seven hundred left handed Benjamites avIio could sling stones 

w..^- " to the hair, and not miss." In Prov. viii, 36, it is con- 


trasted with.NVO, to find (verse 35): "They that find 
me, find life; . . . and he that misses me wrongs his soul." Com- 
pare also Prov. xix, 2: "lie that hastens with his feet misses;" 
that is, makes a misstep; gets off the track. Tlie exact meaning 


in Job V, 24, is more doubtful: "Thou shalt visit thy pasture (or 
habitation), and shalt not miss." The sense, according to most in- 
terpreters, is: Thou shalt miss nothing; in visiting thy pasture and 
thy flocks thou shalt find nothing gone; no sheep or cattle missine:. 
It is easy to see how the idea of making a misstep, or missino- a 
mark, passed over into the moral idea of missing some di^-inelj^ ap- 
pointed mark; hence failure, error, shortcoming, an action that lias 
miscarried. Accordingly, the noun >?pn means fault, error, sin. It 
is interesting to note how the Piel, or intensive form of the verb 
NDn, conveys the idea of making an offering for sin (compare Lev. 
vi, 26, (19); ix, 15), or cleanshig hj s>ov[ie ceremonial of atonement 
(Exod. xxix, 36; Lev. xiv, 62); as if the thought of bearing the 
penalty of sin, and making it appear loathsome and damnable, were 
to be made conspicuous by an intense efi^ort to purge away its guilt 
and shame. Hence arose the common usage of the noun DN'^n in 
the sense of sin offering. 

We should next compare the words \SV, h)V, and \\^. The first is 

from the root my to twist, to make crooked., to distort, •„ ( ... ■, 
. '''' ' py, ?iy, and 

and signifies onoral perversity. In the English version ^ " 

it is commonly translated iniquity. It indicates the in- •'■ 
herent badness of a perverted soul, and in Psa. xxxii, 5, we have 
the expression: Thou hast taken away the iniquity (jiy) of my siji " 
(^nxtsn). Closely cognate with ji^ is b)V, from the root b)V, to turn 
caoay, to distort, and would seem to differ from it in usage by 
being applied rather to outioard action than to inner character; jiy 
indicates specially what a sinner is, 7)V, what he does. The primary 
sense of |.1.^t, on the other hand, is emptiness, or nothingness. It is 
used of idolatry (1 Sam, xv, 23; Isa. xli, 29; Ixvi, 3; IIos. x, 5, 8; 
Zech. X, 2), and in the English version is occasionally translated 
va7iity {J oh XV, 35; Psa. x, 7; Prov. xxii, 8). It denotes wicked- 
ness, or sin, as something that has no enduring reality or value. It 
is a false, vain appearance; a deceitful shadow, destitute of stabil- 
ity. So, then, in these three words we have suggested to us bad 
character, bad action, and the emptiness of sinful pursuits. 

The word which especially denotes evil, or that which is essen- 
tially bad, is VI, with its cognate V'l and nyn, all from 
the root yy^, to In'cak, shatter, crush, crximhle. It indicates 
a character or quality which, for all useful or valuable purposes, is 
utterly broken and ruined. Thus the noun yn, in Gen. xli, 19, de- 
notes the utter badness of the seven famine-smitten heifers of 
Pharaoh's dream, and is frequently used of the wickedness of wrong 
action (Deut. xxviii, 20; Psa. xxviii, 4; Isa. i, 16; Jer. xxiii, 2; 
xliv, 22; Hos. ix, 15). The words yi and nyn, besides being frequently 


employed in the same sense (compare Gen. vi, 5; viii, 21; 1 Kings 
ii, 44; Jer. vii, 12, 24; Zech. i, 4; Mai. ii, 17), are also used to de- 
note the evil or harm which one may do to another (Psa. xv, 3; 
xxi, 11; XXXV, 4; Ixxi, 13). In all the uses of this word the idea of 
a ruin or a breach is in some way traceable. The wickedness of 
one's heart is in the moi-al wrecJc or ruin it discloses. The evil of a 
sinner's wicked action is a breach of moral order. 

Another aspect of sinfulness is brought out in the word pyo and 
u. its noun ?yo. It is usually translated trespass, but the 

fundamental thought is treaclicry, some covert and 
faithless action. Thus it is used of the unfaithfulness of an adul- 
terous woman toward her husband (Num. v, 12), of the taking 
strange wives (Ezra x, 2, 10), of the oifense of Achan (Josh, vii, 1 ; 
xxii, 20; 1 Chron. ii, 7), and generally of unfaithfulness toward 
God (Deut. xxxii, 51; Josh, xxii, 16; 2 Chron. xxix, 6; Ezck. xx, 
27; xxxix, 23). By this word any transgression is depicted as a 
plotting of treachery, or an exhibition of unfaithfulness to some 
holy covenant or bond. 

By a transposition of the first two letters of 7^0 we ha^e the 
fjnu word ?py, Avhich is used of the exhaustive toils of mor- 

' tal life and their attendant sorrow and raisei'y. In Num. 

xxiii, 21, and Isa. x, 1, it is coupled in parallelism Avith |1|{, empti- 
ness, vanity, and may be regarded as the accompaniment of the 
vain pursuits of men. It is that labour, which, in the book of Eccle- 
siastes, where the w^ord occurs thirty-four times, is shown both to 
begin and end in "vanity and vexation of spirit;" a striving after 
the wind (Eccles. i, 14; ii, 11, 17, 19). 

The word 1?^, to cross over, like the Greek Tragaffaivo), is often 
used metaphorically of passing over the line of moral 
obligation, or going aside from it. Hence it corre- 
sponds closely with the word transgress. In Josh, vii, 11, 15; Judg. 
ii. 20; 2 Kings xviii, 12; IIos. vi, 7; viii, 1, it is used of transgressing 
a covenant; in Deut. xxvi, 13, of a commandment; in 1 Sam. xv, 24, 
of the word (lit., mouth) of Jehovah; and in Isa. xxiv, 5, of the laAv. 
Thus words of counsel and warning, covenants, commandments, 
laws, may be O'ossed over, passed by, icalked away from ; and this 
is the peculiar aspect of human perversity which is designated by 
the word "13|?, to transt/ress. 

The two words V*^B aii<l VDh may be best considered together. 
UEVBandvyh ^^^^*^ former conveys the idea of revolt, rebellion; the 
" ^ " ' latter disttirbance, titmnltuous rage. The former woi-d 

is used, in 1 Kings xii, 19, of Israel's revolt from the house of Da- 
vid; ajid in 2 Kings i, 1; iii, 7; viii, 20, 22; 2 Chron. xxi, 10, of the 


rebellions of Moab, Edom, and Libnaii; and the noun VP^, which is 
usually rendered transgression^ should always be understood as a 
fault or trespass considered as a revolt or an apostasy from some 
bond of allegiance. Hence it is an aggravated form of sin, and in 
Job xxxiv, 37, we find the significant expression: "He adds upon 
his sin rebellion." The primary thought in J?^ may be seen from 
Isa. Ivii, 20, where it is said: "The wicked (DY^nn) are like the 
troubled (^").!IJ, tossed, agitated) sea; for rest it cannot, and its waters 
will cast up (lE^nJ', ioss about) mud and mire." So also in Job 
xxxiv, 29, the Hiphil of the verb Vpl is put in contrast with the 
Hiphil of \2\>f, to rest, to be quiet : " Let him give rest, and who will 
give trovMef'' The wicked man is one who is ever troubled and 
troubling. His counsels (Psa. i, 1), his plots (Psa. xxxvii, 12), his 
dishonesty and robberies (Psa. xxxvii, 21; cxix, 61), and manifold 
iniquities (Prov. v, 22), are a source of confusion and disturbance 
in the moral world, and that continually. 

It remains to notice briefly the word DK>X, the primary idea of 
which seems to be that of guilt or blame involved in nf.>s, and njrv 
comiuitting a trespass through ignorance or negligence, ~ '' 
and nJt^ (KJ^', y^, with which it is frequently associated. The two 
words appear together in Lev. iv, 13: "If the whole congregation 
of Israel err through ignorance O^P*^.), and the matter be hidden 
from the eyes of the assembly, and they have done with one from 
all the commandments of Jehovah what should not have been done, 
and have become guilty'''' {^iy3\^. Compare verses 22, 27, and chap- 
ter V, 2, 3, 4, 17, 19, Hence it was natural that the noun DL"« 
should become the common word for the trespass offering which was 
required of those who contracted guilt by negligence or error. 
For the passages just cited, and their contexts, show that any vio- 
lation or infringement of a divine commandment, whether com- 
mitted knowingly or not, involved one in fault, and the guilt, con- 
tracted unconsciously, required for its expiation a trespass offering 
as soon as the sin became known. Accordingly, it will be seen that 
T\y^, and its derivatives, point to errors committed through igno- 
rance (Job vi, 24; Num. xv, 27), while D^X denotes rather the 
guiltiness contracted by such errors, and felt and acknowledged 
when the sin Tsecomes known. 

A study of the divine names used in the Hebrew Scriptures is 
exceedingly interesting and suggestive. They are Ad- 
onai, El, Elah, Elim, Eloah, Ellon, Elohim, Shaddai, ^*^^°^ ''''""'■ 
Jah, and Jehovah. All these may be treated as synonymes, and 
yet each divine name has its peculiar concept and its correspond- 
ing usage. 


Tlie synonymes of the New Testament furnish an equally inter- 
esting and profitahle field of study. Many words appear to be 
■used interchangeably, and yet a careful examination will usually 
show that each conveys its own distinct idea. Take, for instance, 
Kaivog and the two Greek words for 7ieio, Kaivog and veog. Both 
"^'^f- are ajDplied to the new man (comp. Eph. ii, 15; Col. 

iii, 10), the neic covenant (Heb. ix, 15 ; xii, 24), and neio wine (Matt, 
ix, 17; xxvi, 29) ; but a wider comparison shows that Kaivog denotes 
what is new in quality or kind, in opposition to something that has 
already existed and been known, used, and worn out; while veog 
denotes what is new in time, what has not long existed, but is 
yoking and fresh. Both words occur in Matt, ix, 17: " They put 
new (yiov) wine into new (Katvovg) skins." The new wine is here 
conceived as fresh, or recently made; the skins as never used be- 
fore. The skin bottles may have been old or new as to age, but 
in order to preserve wine just made, they must not have been put 
to that use before. But the wine referred to in Matt, xxvi, 29, is 
to be thought of rather as a neio kind of icine: "I will not drink 
henceforth of this fruit of the vine until that day when I drink it 
with you new (Kaivov, new in a higher sense and qualitj'), in the 
kingdom of my Father." So also Joseph's tomb, in which our 
Lord's body was laid, was called a new one {Kaivog, Matt, xxvii, 60 ; 
John xix, 41), not in the sense that it had recently been hewn from 
the rock, but because no one had ever been laid in it before. The 
new (KaivTj) commandment of John xiii, 34 is the law of love, 
which, proceeding from Christ, has a new aspect and scope; a depth 
and beauty and fulness which it had not before. But when John 
wrote his epistles of brotherly love it had become "an old command- 
ment" (1 John ii, 7), long familiar, even "the word which ye heard 
from the beginning." But then he (verse 8) adds : " Again, a new 
commandment (evroXi]v KaivTqv) I write to you, which thing is true 
in him and in you; because tlie darkness is passing away and the 
true light is already shining." The i)assing away of the old darkness 
and the growing intensity of the true light, according to proper 
Christian experience, continually develop ami bring out new glories 
in the old commandment. This thing (o), namely, the fact that 
the old commandment is also new, is seen to be true both in Christ 
and in the believer; because in the latter the darkness keeps ])ass- 
ing away, and in the former tlie true light shines more and more. 

In like manner the tongues mentioned in Mark xvi, 17 are called 
Kaivai, because they would be new to the world, "other tongues" 
(Acts ii, 4), unlike any thing in the way of speaking which had been 
known before. So, too, the new name, new Jerusalem, new song, 


new heaven and new earth (Rev. ii, 17; iii, 12; v, 9; xiv, 3; xxi, 1), 
to designate which Kaivog is used, are the renewed, ennobled, and 
glorious apocalyptic aspects of the things of the kingdom of God. 
The word veog is used nine times in the Synoptic Gospels of wine 
recently made. In 1 Cor. v, 7, it is applied to the new lump of 
leaven, as that which has been recently prepared. It is used of the 
new man in Col. iii, 10, where the putting on the new man is spoken 
of as a worh recently accomplished ; whereas KatvSg is used in Eph. 
ii, 15, denoting rather the character of the loorh accomplished. So 
the new covenant may be conceived of as new, or recent (Heb- 
xii, 24), in opposition to that long ago given at Sinai, while it may 
also be designated as new in the sense of being different from the 
old (Matt, xxvi, 28 ; 2 Cor. iii, 6), which is worn out with age, and 
ready to vanish away (Heb. viii, 13). Let it be noted, also, that 
" newness of life " and " newness of spirit " (Rom, vi, 4 ; vii," 6), are 
expressed by Kaiv6rr](; ; but youth is denoted by vedrrjg (Matt, xix 20 ; 
Mark x, 20 ; Luke xviii, 21 ; Acts xxvi, 4; 1 Tim. iv, 12). 

The two words for life, (3iog and ^w?^, are easily distinguishable 
as used in the New Testament. Biog denotes the pres- ^.^ ^^^ . , 
ent human life considered especially with reference to 
modes and conditions of existence. It nowhere means lifetime, or 
period of life; for the true text of 1 Pet. iv, 3, which was supposed 
to convey this meaning, omits the word. It commonly denotes the 
means of living; that on which one depends as a means of support- 
ing life. Thus the poor widow cast into the treasury her whole 
livifig {Plov, Mark xii, 44). Another woman spent all her livi?ig on 
physicians (Luke viii, 14), The same meanmg appears in Luke 
XV, 12, 30; xxi, 4, In Luke viii, 14 and 1 John iii, 17 it denotes, 
rather, life as conditioned by riches, pleasures, and abundance. In 
1 Tim. ii, 2; 2 Tim. ii, 4 ; 1 John ii, 16 it conveys the idea of the 
manner and style in which one spends his life ; and so, in all its 
uses, piog has reference solely to the life of man as lived in this 
world. Zurj, on the other hand, is the antithesis of death {Sdvarog), 
and while used occasionally in the New Testament in the sense of 
physical existence (Acts xvii, 25 ; 1 Cor. iii, 22; xv, 19; Phil, i, 20; 
James iv, 14), is defined by Cremer as "the kind of existence pos- 
sessed by individualized being, to be explained as selfgovernin;/ 
existence, which God is, and man has or is said to have, and which, 
on its part, is supreme over all the rest of creation."^ Tholuck 

■ Biblico-Theological Lexicon of the New Testament, p. 272. Cremer goes on to 
show how from the sense of physical existence the word is also used to denote a perfect 
and abiding antithesis to death (Heb. vii, 16), a positive freedom from death (Acts 
ii, 28; 2 Cor. v, 4), and the sum of the divine promises under the Gospel, "belonging 


observes: "The words ^(o-q and ■&dvarog {death), along with the 
cognate verbs, although appearing in very various applications, are 
most clearly explained when we suppose the following views to 
have lain at the basis of them. God is the life eternal (^w^ aiwviog, 
1 John V, 20), or the li(//it, {(piog, 1 John i, 5; James i, 7). Beings 
made in the image of God have true life only in fellowship with 
him. "Wherever this life is absent there is death. Accordingly the 
idea of ^(oiq comprehends holiness and bliss, that of ■ddvarog sin and 
misery. Now as both the ^w^ and the -^dvaroq manifest themselves 
in different degrees, sometimes imder different aspects, the words 
acquire a variety of significations. The highest grade of the ^w?/ is 
the life which the redeemed live with the Saviour in the glorious 
kingdom of heaven. Viewed on this side, ^co?^ denotes continued 
existence after death, communion Avith God, and blessedness, of 
which each is implied in the other."* 

In Jesus' conversation with Simon Peter at the sea of Tiberias 
kya-inj and Mohn xxi, 15-17), we have four sets of synonymes. 
^lUu. First, the words dyaTdcj and (piXeu), for which we have 

no two corresponding English words. The former, as opposed to 
the latter, denotes a devout reverential love, grounded in reason 
and admiration. (PiXeco, on the other hand, denotes the love of a 
warm personal affection, a tender emotional love of the heart. "The 
first expresses," says Ti-ench, "a more reasoning attachment, of 
choice and selection {cliligere = deli.gere), from seeing in the object 
upon whom it is bestowed that which is worthy of regard ; or else 
from a sense that such was fit and due toward the person so regard- 
ed, as being a benefactor, or the like; while the second, without 
being necessarily an unreasoning attachment, does yet oftentimes 
give less account of itself to itself ; is more instinctive, is more of 
the feelings, implies more passion."'' The range of ^iXeu), accord- 
ing to Oremer, is wider than that of dyairdd), but dyandb) stands 
high above (piXeu) on account of its moral import. It involves the 
moral affection of conscious, deliberate will, and may therefore be 
depended on in moments of trial. But (piXiu, involving the love of 
natural inclination and impulse, may be variable.' Obsevve, then, 

to those to whom the future is svire, alreadj' in possession of all who are partakers of 
tlic New Testament salvation, ' that leadeth unto life,' and who already in this life 
begin life eternal." (Matt, vii, 14; Tit. i, 2 ; 2 Tim. i, 1; Acts xi, 18; xiii, 48). He 
further observes, that in the writings of Paul " fwiy is the substance of Gospel preach- 
ing, the final aim of faith (1 Tim. i, 16);" in the writings of .lohii it "is the subject 
matter and aim of divine revelation." Comp. John v, b'J ; 1 John v, 'Ai>; etc. 

' Commentary on Romans v, 12. 

* Syiionjmcs of tlie New Testament, sub verbo. 

'Comp. Biblieo-Theological Lexicon, pp. 11, 12. 


the use of these words in the passage before us. " Jesus says to Simon 
Peter, Simon, son of Jonah, dost thou devoutly love (dyanag) me more 
than these? He says to him. Yea, Lord, thou knowest (oldag, seest) 
that I tenderly love (^i/Lo)) thee." In his second question our Lord, 
in tender regard for Simon, omits the words more than these, and sim- 
ply asks: "Dost thou devoutly love {aya-rrag) me?" To this Simon 
answers precisely as before, not venturing to assume so lofty a love 
as dyaTTixG} implies. In his third question (verse 17) our Lord uses 
Simon's word, thus approaching nearer to the heart and emotion of 
the disciple : " Simon, son of Jonah, dost thou tenderly love {(piXelg) 
me?" The change of word, as well as his asking for the third 
time, filled Peter with grief [eXvnfjdi]), and he replied with great 
emotion : " O Lord, all things thou knowest (olSag, seest, dost per- 
ceive), thou dost surely know {yivo)OK£ig, art fully cog- oi6a and yi- 
nizant of the fact, hast full assurance by personal vugku. 
knowledge) that I tenderly love {(piXw) thee." The distinction be- 
tween oida (from eldo)^ to see, to perceive) and yiv<l)aK<>) (to obtain 
and have knowledge of) is very subtle, and the words appear to be 
often used interchangeably. According to Cremer, " there is mere- 
ly the difference that yivojoKeiv implies an active relation, to wit, a 
self -reference of the knower to the object of his knowledge ; where- 
as, in the case of eldevai, the object has simply come within the 
sphere of perception, within the knower's circle of vision." ' As 
used by Peter the two words differ, in that ycvojoKM expresses a 
deeper and more positive knowledge than olda. 

According to many ancient authorities we have in this passage 
three different words to denote lambs and sheep. Li verse 15 the 
word is dgvla, lambs, in verse 16 nQojSara, sheep, and in 'Apvic 7rp6/3a- 
verse 17 Trgofidna, sheepUngs, or choice sheep. The dif- tu, and irpo- 
ference and distinct import of these several words it is /?«T'a. 
not difficult to understand. The lambs are those of tender age; 
the young of the flock. The sheep are the full-grown and strong. 
The sheepUngs, npopdria, are the choice full-grown sheej), those 
which deserve peculiar tenderness and care, with special reference, 
perhaps, to the milch-ewes of the flock. Compare Isa, xl, 11, Then, 
in connexion with these different words for sheej) we have also the 
synonymes (36gko) and noiuaivo), to denote the various Bogku and 
cares and work of the shepherd, Bookg) means to feed, 'n-oifxaivu. 
and is used especially of a shepherd providing his flock with pas- 
ture, leading them to the field, and fui-nishing them with food. 
Uoinaivo) is a word of wider significance, and involves the whole 
oflice and work of a shepherd. It comes more nearly to our word 

' Biblico-Tlieological Lexicon, p. 230. 


tend, and includes the ideas of feeding, folding, governing, guiding, 
guarding, and whatever a good shepherd is expected to do for his 
flock. BocTKO) denotes the more special and tender care, the giving 
of nourishment, and is appropriately used when speaking of lambs. 
Hoiiiaivu) is more general and comprehensive, and means to rule as 
well as to feed. Hence appear the depth and fulness of the three- 
fold commandment: "Feed my lambs," "Tend my sheep," "Feed 
my choice sheep." The lambs and the choice sheep need special 
nourishment; all the sheep need the shepherd's faithful care. It 
is well to note, that, on the occasion of the first miraculous drauglit 
of fishes, at this same sea of Galilee (Luke v, 1-10), Jesus sounded 
the depths of Simon Peter's soul (verse 8), awakened him to an aw- 
ful sense of sin, and then told him that he should thereafter catch 
men (verse 10). Now, after this second like miracle, at the same 
sea, and with another probing of his heart, he indicates to him that 
there is something more for him to do than to catch men. He must 
know how to care for them after they have been caught. He must 
be a shepherd of the Lord's sheep as well as a fisher of men, and 
he must learn to imitate the manifold care of the Great Shepherd 
of Israel, of whom Isaiah wrote (Isa. xl, 1 1 ) : " As a shepherd he 
will feed his flock {y}V,); in his arms he will gather the lambs (CN^'l?), 
and in his bosom bear; the railch-ewes (npy) he will gently lead." 

The synonymes of the Hebrew and Greek Scriptures have been as 
yet but slightly and imperfectly treated.' They afford the biblical 
scholar a broad and most interesting field of study. It is a spiritual 
as well as an intellectual discipline to discriminate sharply between 
synonymous terms of Holy Writ, and trace the diverging lines of 
thought, and the far-reaching suggestions which often arise there- 
from. The foregoing pages will have made it apparent that the 
exact import and the discriminative usage of words are all-import- 
ant to the biblical interpreter. Without an accurate knowledge 
of the meaning of his words, no one can properly either under- 
stand or explain the language of any author. 

' The only works of note on the subject are, Girdlestone, Synonymes of the Old 
Testament, London, ISYl; and Trem-h, Synonymes of the Xew Tostiimcnt. originally 
published in two small volumes, and subsequently in one ; Ninth Edition, Loudon, 1880. 
The work of Tittniann, De Synonyniis in Novo Testamento, translated and published 
in two volumes of the Edinburgh Bi))lii'al Cabinet, is now of no great value. Cre- 
nier's niblico-Theological Lexieon of the New Testament eontains a very excellent 
treatment of a number of the New Testament synonymes; and Wilson's Syntax and 
Synonymes of the Greek Testament (Loudon, 1864) is well worthy of consultation. 




Having become familiar with the meaning of words, and thoroughly 
versed in the principles and methods by which their signification 
and usage are ascertained, we are prepared to investigate the 
grammatico-historical sense. This phrase is believed to have 
originated with Karl A. G. Keil, whose treatise on Historical In- 
terpretation and Text-Book of New Testament Hermeneutics ' fur- 
nished an important contribution to the science of in- ^ 
terpi'etation. We have already defined the grammati- historical 
co-historical method of interpretation as distinguished ^^^^^ deaned. 
from the allegorical, mystical, naturalistic, mythical, and other 
methods,^ which have more or less prevailed. The grammatico- 
historical sense of a writer is such an interpretation of his lan- 
guage as is required by the laws of grammar and the facts of his- 
tory. Sometimes we speak of the literal sense, by which we mean 
the most simple, direct, and ordinary meaning of phrases and sen- 
tences. By this term we usually denote a meaning opposed to the 
figurative or metaphorical. The grammatical sense is essentially 
the same as the literal, the one exjjression being derived from the 
Greek, the other from the Latin. But in English usage the word 
grammatical is applied rather to the arrangement and construction 
of words and sentences. By the historical sense we designate, 
rather, that meaning of an author's words which is required by 
historical considerations. It demands that we consider carefully 
the time of the author, and the circumstances under which he wrote. 
" Grammatical and historical interpretation, when rightly under- 
stood," says Davidson, "are synonymous. The special Davidson's 
laws of grammar, agreeably to which the sacred writers statemeut. 
employed language, were the result of their peculiar circumstances; 
and history alone throws us back into these circumstances. A new 
language was not made for the authors of Scripture; they con- 
formed to the current language of the country and time. Their 
compositions would not have been otherwise intelligible. They 

' De historica librorum sacrorum interpretatione ejusque necessitate. Lps., KSS. 
Lehrbuch der Hermeneutik des N. T. nach Gnindsiitzcn der grammatisch-histoiischcn 
Interpretation. Lpz., 1810. A Latin translation, by Emmerliug, appeared in 1811. 

' Compare above, pp. 1*73, 174. 


took up the 21SUS loqitendi as they found it, modifying it, as is quite 
natural, by the rehitions internal and external amid which they 
thought and wrote," The same writer also observes: " The grara- 
matico-historical sense is made out by the application of grammat- 
ical and historical considerations. The great object to be ascer- 
tained is the xisus loquendi, embracing the laws or principles of 
universal grammar which form the basis of every language. These 
are nothing but the logic of the mind, comprising the modes in 
which ideas are formed, combined, and associated, agreeably to the 
original susceptibilities of the intellectual constitution. They are 
the j)hysiology of the human mind as exemplified jiractically by 
every individual. General grammar is wont to be occupied, how- 
ever, with the usage of the best writers; whereas the laws of lan- 
guage as observed by the writers of Scripture should be mainly 
attended to by the sacred intei'preter, even though the philosoph- 
ical grammarian may not admit them all to be correct. It is the 
xisus loquouU of the inspired authors which forms the subject of 
the grammatical principles recognized and followed by the expos- 
itor. The grammar he adopts is deduced from the use of the lan- 
guage employed in the Bible. This may not be conformed to the 
practice of the best writers; it may not be philosophically just; but 
he must not, therefore, pronounce it erroneous. The modes of ex- 
pression used by each writer — the utterances of his mental associa- 
tions, constitute his usus loquendi. These form his grammatical 
principles; and the interpreter takes them as his own in the busi- 
■. iicss of exegesis. Hence, too, there arises a special as well as a 
^Smiversal grammar. Now we attain to a knowledge of the peculiar 
%csus loquendi in the way of historical investigation. The religious, 
moral, and psychological ideas, under whose influence a language 
has been formed and moulded; all the objects with which the 
«^ writers were conversant, and the relations in which they were 
placed, are traced out JiistoricaUy. The costume of the ideas in 
the minds of the biblical authors oricinated from the character of 
the times, country, place, and education, under which they acted. 
Hence, in order to ascertain their peculiar usus loqicendi, we should 
*^ know all those institutions and influences whereby it was formed or 
affected." ' 

The general j^rinciples and methods by which we ascertain (he 
General princi- '^'*''*^' loquendi of single terms, or words, l)ave been j)re- 
piesandmeui- scntcd in the preceding chapter. Substantially the 
^ ■ same principles are to serve us as we proceed to investi- 

gate the grammatico-historical sense. We must attend to the 
' Davidson, Sacred Hermeneutics, pp. 225, 22G. 



definitions and construction which an author puts upon his own terms, ^ 
and never suppose that he intends to contradict himself or puzzle 
his readers. The context and connection of thought are also to be 
studied in order to apprehend the general subject, scope, and pur- 
pose of the writer. But especially is it necessary to ascertain the T* 
correct grammatical construction of sentences. Subject and predi- 
cate and subordinate clauses must be closely analyzed, and the 
whole document, book, or epistle, should be viewed, as far as pos- 
sible, from the author's historical standpoint. 

A fundamental principle in gramiaati^Ojjiistorical exposition is 
that Avords and„£aaJiaiJ3JmL_one_ji_gni^^^ 
tioii in one and the same connection. The moment we ^^^f"^? '^".* ^'^'^ 

' _ ^^^^. _ ,..-.-..--. — . — _— „« — „ ^^ ^ meaning in one 

neglect this jirinciple we drift out upon a sea of un- place. 
certainty and conjecture. It is commonly assumed by the univer- 
sal sense of mankind that unless one designedly put forth a riddle, 
he will so speak as to convey his meaning as clearly as possible to 
others. Hence that meaning of a sentence which most readily sug- 
gests itself to a reader or hearer, is, in general, to be received as 
the true meaning, and that alone. Take, for example, the account 
of Daniel and his three companions, as given in the first chapter of 
the Book of Daniel. The simplest child readily grasps the mean- 
ing. There can be no doubt as to the general import of the words 
throughout the chapter, and that the writer intended to inform his 
readers in a particular way how God honoured those young men 
because of their abstemiousness, and because of their refusal to 
defile themselves with the meats and drinks which the king had 
appointed for them. The same may be said of the lives of the 
patriarchs as recorded in the Book of Genesis, and, indeed, of any 
of the historical narratives of the Bible. They are to be accepted 
as a trustworthy record of facts. 

This principle holds with equal force in the narratives of miracu- 
lous events. For the miracles of the Bible are re- ^^^^^^-^^^ ^^ ^^ 
corded as facts, actual occurrences, witnessed by few or iiteraUy under- 
by many as the case might be, and the writers give no 
intimation that their statements involve any thing but plain literal 
truth. Thus, in Josh, v, 13-vi, 5, a man appears to Joshua, hold- 
ing a sword in his hand, announcing himself as "a prince of the 
host of Jehovah" (verse 14), and giving directions for the capture 
of Jericho. This may, possibly, have occurred in a dream or a 
waking vision; but such a supposition is not in strictest accord with 
the statements. For it would involve the supposition that Josluxa 
dreamed that he fell on his face, and took off his shoes from 
his feet, as well as looked and listened. Revelations from Jehovah 


were wont to come through visions and dreams (Xum. xii, 6), but 
the simplest exposition of this jiassage is that the angel of Jehovah 
openly a])peared to Joshua, and the occurrences were all outward 
and actual, rather than by vision or dream. 

The simple but mournful narrative of the offering up of Jeph- 

t ^.^ ^, thah's daughter (Judg. xi, 30-40) has been perverted to 
Jephthah's t i i i • t 

da us liter a mean that Jephthah devoted his daughter to perpetual 

burnt-oiTering. ^jj.gjj^j^-y — m^ exposition that arose from the a priori 

assumption that a judge of Israel must have known that human 
sacrifices were an abomination to Jehovah. But no one presumes 
to question that he vowed to offer as a burnt-offei'ing that which 
came forth from the doors of his house to meet him (verse 31). 
Jephthah could scarcely have thought of a cow, or a sheep, or goat, 
as cominof out of his house to meet him. Still less could he have 
contemplated a dog, or any unclean animal. The awful solemnity 
and tremendous force of his vow appear, rather, in the thought 
that he contemplated no common offering, but a victim to be taken 
from among the inmates of his house. But he then little thouglit 
that of all his household — servants, young men, and maidens — his 
daughter and only child would be the first to meet him. Hence 
his anguish, as indicated in verse 35. But she accepted her fate 
with a sublime heroism. She asked tAvo months of life in which 
to bewail her virginity, for that was to her the one only thing that 
darkened her thoughts of death. To die unwedded and childless 
was the sting of death to a Hebrew woman, and especially one 
who was as a princess in Israel. Take away that bitter thought, and 
with Jei)hthah's daughter it were a sublime and enviable thing to 
" die for God, her country, and her sire." 

The notion that, previously to her being devoted to a life of vir- 
ginity and seclusion, she desired two months to mourn over such a 
fate, appears exceedingly improbable, if not absurd. For, as Cap- 
pellus well observes, " If she desired or felt obliged to bewail her 
virginity, it were especially suitable to bewail that when shut up in 
the monastery; previously to her being shut up it would have l)een 
more suitable, with youthful friends and associates, to have spent 
those two months joyfully and pleasantly, since afterward there 
Avonld remain to her a time for weeping more than sufficiently 
long." * The sacred writer declares (verse 39) that, after the two 
months, Jephthah did to his daughter the vow tchich he had voiced 
— not something else which he had not voAved. He records, not as 
the manner in which he did his vow, but as the most thrilling kuell 
ttat in the ears of her father and companions sounded over that 

' Critici Sacri, torn, ii, p. 2076. 


daughter's funeral pile, and sent its lingering echo into the later 
times, that " she knew no man." ' 

The narratives of the resurrection of Jesus admit of no rational 
explanation aside from that simple grammatico-histori- \ 

cal sense in which the Christian Church has ever under- rection a literal 
stood them. The naturalistic and mythical theories, '"^toncai fact. 
when applied to this miracle of miracles, utterly break down. The 
alleged discrepancies between the several evangelists, instead of 
disproving the truthfulness of their accounts, become, on closer in- 
spection, confirmatory evidences of the accuracy and trustworthi- 
ness of all their statements. If the New Testament narratives aj-e 
deserving of any credit at all, the following facts are evident: 

(1) Jesus foretold his death and resurrection, but his disciples were 
slow to comprehend him, and did not fully accept his statements. 

(2) Immediately after the crucifixion the disciples were smitten with 
deep dejection and fear; but after the third day they all claimed 
to have seen the Lord, and they gave minute details of several of 
his appearances. (3) They affirm that they saw him ascend into the 
heavens, and soon afterward are found preaching "Jesus and the 
resurrection" in the streets of Jerusalem and in all Palestine and 
the regions beyond. (4) Many years afterward Paul declared these 
facts, and affirmed that Jesus appeared at one time to above five 
hundred brethren, of whom the greater part were still alive (1 Cor. 
XV, 6). He affirmed, that, if Christ had not been raised from the 
dead, the preaching of the GosjdcI and the faith of the Church were 

' "We p;ain nothing by attempting to evade the obvious import of any of the biblical 
narratives. On the treatment of this account of Jephthah's daughter Stanley ob- 
serves : " As far back as we can trace the sentiment of those who read the passage, 
in Jonathan the Targumist, and Josephus, and through the whole of the first eleven 
centuries of Christendom, the story was taken in its literal sense as describing the 
death of the maiden, although the attention of the Church was, as usual, diverted to 
distant allegorical meanings. Then, it is said, from a polemical bias of Kimchi, arose 
the interpretation that she was not killed, but immured in celibacy. From the Jew- 
ish theology this spread to the Christian. By this time the notion had sprung up that 
every act recorded in the Old Testament was to be defended according to the stand- 
ard of Christian morality ; and, accordingly, the process began of violently wresting 
the words of Scripture to meet the preconceived fancies of later ages. In this way 
entered the hypothesis of Jephthah's daughter having been devoted as a nun; con- 
trary to the plain meaning of the text, contrary to the highest authorities of the 
Church, contrary to all the usages of the old dispensation. In modern times a more 
careful study of the Bible has brought us back to the original sense. And with it 
returns the deep pathos of the original story, and the lesson which it reads of the 
heroism of the father and daughter, to be admired and loved, in the midst of the 
fierce superstitions across v.hich it plays like a sunbeam on a stormy sea." — Lectures 
on the History of the Jewish Church. First Series, p. 397. 


1)'at an empty thing, based upon a gigantic fiilsehoorl. This con- 
ehision follows irresistibly from the above-named facts. We must 
either accept the statements of the evangelists, in their plain and 
obvious imjjort, or else meet the inevitable alternative that they 
knowingly put forth a falsehood (a concerted testimony which was 
essentially a lie before God), and went preaching it in all the world, 
ready to seal their testimony by tortures and death. This latter 
alternative involves too great a strain upon our reason to be accept- 
ed for a moment, especially when the unique and straightforward 
Gospel narratives furnish such a clear and adequate historical basis 
for the marvellous rise and power of Christianity in the world. 
Winer's Grammar of the New Testament, and the modern critical 

.^^ commentaries on the whole or on parts of the New Testament — 
"-■^such as those of Meyer, De Wette, Alford, Ellicott, and Godet — 
have served largely to place the interpretation of the Christian 
Grammatical Scriptures on a sound grammatico-historical basis, and 
hDokecry° m ^ constant use of these great works is all-important to 
the scriptures, the biblical scholar. He must, by repeated grammatical 
praxis, make himself familiar with the peculiarities of the New 
Testament dialect. The significance of the presence or the absence 
of the article has often much to do with the meaning of a passage. 
"In the language of living intercourse," says Winer, "it is utterly 
impossible that the article should be omitted where it is decidedly 
necessary, or employed where it is not demanded. "OQog can never 

VA denote the mountain, nor rn bQo<; a mountain.''''^ The position of 
words and clauses, and peculiarities of grammatical structure, may 
often serve to emphasize important thoughts and statements. The 
special usage of the genitive, the dative, or the accusative case, 
or of the active, middle, or passive voice, often conveys a notable 
significance. The same is also true of conjunctions, adverbs, and 
prepositions. These serve to indicate peculiar shades of meaning, 
" and delicate and suggestive relations of words and sentences, with- 
out a nice apprehension of Avhich the real sense of a i)assage may 
be lost to the reader. The authorized version often obscures an 
important passage of the New Testament by a mistranslation of the 
aorist tense. Take, as a single example, 2 Cor. v, 14: "For the 
love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one 
died for all, then Avere all dead." The //"is now allowed to be an 
error in the text and should bo omitted. The verse 
ree n s. gj^^^^^j^^l ^-^^^^ l^^ translated: "For the love of Christ 

constrains us, having judged this, that one died for all ; therefore 

the all died." The first verb, constrains (ovvexei), is in the present 

' New Testament Grammar, p. 115. Andover, 1874. 


tense, and denotes the then present experience of the apostle at 
the time of his writing: The love of Christ (Christ's love for men) 
now constrains us (" holds us in bounds " — Meyer) ; and this is the 
ever-present and abiding experience of all like the apostle. Ilavinf/ 
judged (Kpivavrag) is the aorist participle, and points to a definite 
judgment which he had formed at some past time — probably at, or 
soon after, his conversion. The statement that one died {drrsdavev, 
aorist singular) for all, points to that great historic event which, 
above every other, exhibited the love of Christ for men. "Apa ol 
TTdvreg dnsT^avov, therefore the all died— "the all," who meet the 
condition specified in the next verse, and "live unto him Avho for 
their sakes died and rose again," are conceived as having died with 
Christ. They were crucified with Christ, united with him by the 
likeness of his death (Rom. vi, 5, 6).' Compare also Col. iii, 8: 
" For ye died (not ye are dead), and your life is hidden {iceicpvnTai, 
has become hidden) with Christ in God." That is, ye died at the 
time ye became united with Christ by faith, and as a consequence 
of that death ye now have a spiritual life in Christ. 

" With regard to the tenses of the verb," says Winer, " New 
Testament grammarians and expositors have been guilty of the 
greatest mistakes. In general, the tenses are employed in the New 
Testament exactly in the same manner as in Greek authors. The 
aorist marks simply the past (merely occurrence at some former 
time — viewed, too, as momentary), and is the tense employed in 
narration; the imperfect and pluperfect always have reference to 
secondary events connected in respect to time with the principal 
event (as relative tenses) ; the pei'fect brings the past into con- 
nexion with the present, representing an action in reference to the 
present as concluded. No one of these tenses, sta-ietly and properly 
taken, can stand for another, as commentators often would have us 
believe. But where such an interchange appears to take place, 
either it is merely apparent, and a sufficient reason (especially a 
rhetorical one) can be discovered why this and no other tense has 
been used, or it is to be set down to the account of a certain inac- 
curacy peculiar to the language of the people, which did not con- 
ceive and express relations of time with entire precision."^ 

' When Christ died the redeeming death for all, all died, in respect of their fleshly 
life, with him ; this objective matter of fact which Paul here affirms has its subjective 
realization in the faith of the individuals, through which they have entered into that 
death-fellowship with Christ given through his death for all, so that they have now, 
by means of baptism, become burigd with him (Col. ii, 12). — Meyer, in loco. 

* New Testament Grammar, p. 264. Comp. Buttmann's Grammar of the New Test- 
ament Greek ; Thayer's Translation, pp. 194-206. Andover, 1873. 


The grammatical sense is to be always sought by a careful study 
and application of the well-established principles and rules of the 
language. A close attention to the meaning and relations of words, 
a care to note the course of thought, and to allow each case, mood, 
tense, and the position of each word, to contribute its part to the 
general whole, and a caution lest we assign to words and phrases a 
scope and conception foreign to the ksus loqueiicU of the language 
— these are rules, which, if faithfully observed, will always serve 
to bring out the real import of any written document. 




The grammatico-historical sense is further developed by a study of 

„ , , „ the context and scope of an author's woi'k. The word 

Context, Scope, J^ . . zt • 

and Plan de- Context, as the etymology intimates (Latin, con, together, 

^"^'*" and textus, woven), denotes something that is woven to- 

\ / gethcr, and, applied to a written document, it means the connexion 
of thought supposed to run through every passage which consti- 
tutes by itself a whole. By some writers it is called the connexion. 
The immediate context is that which immediately ]^recedcs or fol- 
lows a given word or sentence. The remote context is that whicli 
is less closely connected, and may embrace a whole paragrajdi or 
section. Tlie scoj^e, on the other hand, is the end or purpose which 
the writer has in view. Every author is supposed to have some 
object in Avriting, and that object will be either formally stated in 
some part of his work, or else apparent from the general course of 
thonglit. The plan of a work is the arrangement of its several 
parts; the order of thought which the "writer pursues. 

Tlie context, scope, and plan of a Avriting should, therefore, be 
y studied together; and, logically, perhaps, the scope should be first 
ascertained. For the meaning of particular parts of a book may be 
fully ai)prt'heiided oidy when we have mastered the general purpose 
and design of the whole. The plan of a book, moreover, is most 
intimately related to its scope. The one cannot be fully ap])rc- 
hended without some knowledge of the other. Even where the 
scope is formally announced, an analysis of the plan will serve to 
make it more clear. A writer who has a well-defined i)lan in 
his mind will be likely to keep to that plan, and make all his nar- 
ratives and ])articular arguments bear upon the main subject. 


The scope of several of the books of Scriptui*e is formally stated 
by the writers. Most of the prophets of the Old Test- 
ament state the occasion and purpose of their oracles books formi.iiy 
at the beginning of their books, and at the beginning of 
particular sections. The purpose of the Book of Proverbs is anr 
nounced in verses 1-6 of the first chapter. The subject of Eccie- 
siastes is indicated at the beginning, in the words "Vanity of 
vanities." The design of John's Gospel is formally stated at the 
close of the twentieth chapter: "These things are written that ye 
may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that be- 
lieving ye may have life in his name." The special purpose and 
occasion of the Epistle of Jude are given in verses 3 and 4: "Be- 
loved, while giving all diligence to write to you of our common 
salvation, I found (or had) necessity to write to you exhorting to 
contend earnestly for the faith once for all delivered to the saints. 
For there crept in stealthily certain men, who of old were fore- 
written unto this judgment, ungodly, turning the grace of our God 
into lasciviousness, and denying the only Master, and our Lord 
Jesus Christ." The purport of this is, that while Jude was dili- 
gently planning and preparing to write a treatise or epistle on the 
common salvation, the circumstances stated in verse 4 led him to 
break off from that purpose for the time, and write to exhort them 
to contend earnestly for the faith once for all (dna^, only once ; 
"no other faith will be given." — Bengel) delivered to the saints. 

The scope of some books must be ascertained by a diligent <^— 
examination of their contents. Thus, for example, the „, 

_ -^ ' rian and Scope 

Book of Genesis is found to consist of ten sections, of Genesis seer 
each beginning with the heading, " These are the gen- ™' ^''* '^°'^^^"'^- 
erations," etc. This tenfold history of generations is preceded and 
introduced by the record of creation in chapter i, 1-ii, 3. The 
plan of the author appears, therefore, to be, first of all to recoi'd 
the miraculous creation of the heavens and the land, and then the 
developments (evolutions) in human history that followed that cre- 
ation. Accordingly, the first developments of human life and his- 
tory are called " the generations of the heavens and the land " 
(chap, ii, 4). The historical standpoint of the writer is "the day" 
from which the generations (nn^in, f/rovths) start, the day when 
man was formed of the dust of the ground and the breath of life 
from the heavens. So the first man is conceived as the product of 
the land and the heavens by the word of God, and the word N'lZl, 
create, does not occur in this whole section. " The day " of chapter 
ii, 4, which most interpreters understand of the whole creative 
week, we take rather to be the terminus a quo of generations, the 


day from which, according to verse 5, all the Edenlc growths be- 
gan; the day when the whole face of the ground was watered, 
when the garden of Eden was planted, and the first human pair 
were brought togetlier. It was the sixth day of the creative week, 
" the day that Jehovah God made (niry, in the sense of effected, did, 
accomplished, brought to completion) land and heavens." Adam 
was the "son of God" (Luke iii, 38), and the day of his creation 
was the point of time when Jehovah Elohim first revealed himself 
in history as one with the Creator. In chapter i, which records 
the beginning of the heavens and the land, only Elohim is named, 
the God in whom, as the plural form of the name denotes, centre 
all fulness and manifoldness of divine powers. But at cliapter 
ii, 4, Avhere the record of generations begins, we first moot with the 
name Jehovah, the personal Revealer, who enters into covenant 
with his creatures, and places man under moral law. Creation, so 
to speak, began with the pluripotent God — Elohim; its completion 
in the formation of man, and in subsequent developments, was 
wrought by Jehovah, the God of revelation, of law, and of love. 
Having traced the generations of the heavens and the land through 
Adam down to Seth (iv, 25, 26), the writer next records the out- 
growths of that line in what he calls "the book of the generations 
of Adam" (v, 1). This book is no history of Adam's origin, for 
that was incorporated in the generations of the heavens and the 
land, but of Adam's posterity through Seth down to the time of 
the flood. Next follow " the generations of Noah (vi, 9), then 
those of his sons Shem, Ham, and Japheth (x, 1), then those of Shem 
through Arphaxad to Terah (xi, 10-26), and then, in regular order, 
the generations of Terah (xi, 27, under which the whole history 
of Abraham is placed), Ishmael (xxv, 12), Isaac (xxv, 19), P^sau 
(xxxvi, 1), and Jacob (xxxvii, 2). Hence the great design of the 
book Avas evidently to place on record the beginning and the 
earliest developments of human life and history. Keeping in mind 
this scope and structure of the book, we see its unity, and also 
find each section and subdivision sustaininc: a logical fitness and 
relation to the whole. Thus, too, the import of not a few passages 
becomes more clear and forcible. 

A very cursory examination of the Book of Exodus shows us 
Plan and Scope that its great purpose is to record the history of the 
of Exodus. Exodus from Egypt and the legislation at Mt. Sinai, 
and it is readily divisibk> into two parts (1) chaps, i-xviii ; 
(2) xix-xl; corresponding to these two great events. But a closer 
examination and analysis reveal many beautiful and suggestive re- 
lations of the different sections. First, we have a vivid narrative 


of the bondage of Israel (chaps, i-xi). It is sharply outlined in 
chapter i, enhanced by the account of Moses' early life and exile 
(chaps, ii-iv), and shown in its intense persistence by the account 
of Pharaoh's hardness of heart, and the consequent plagues which 
smote the land of Egypt (chaps, v-xi). Second, we have the 
redemption of Israel (chaps, xii-xv, 21). This is first typified by 
the Passover (chaps, xii-xiii, 16), realized in the marvels and tri- 
umphs of the march out of Egypt, and the passage of the Red Sea 
(xiii, 17-xiv, 31), and celebrated in the triumphal song of Moses 
(xv, 1-21). Then, third, we have the consecration of Israel 
(xv, 22-xl) set forth in seven sections, (l) The march from the 
Red Sea to Rephidim (xv, 22-xvii, 1), depicting the first free activ- 
ities of the people after their redemption, and their need of special 
Divine compassion and help. (2) Attitude of the heathen toward 
Israel in the cases of hostile Amalek and friendly Jethro (xvii, 8- 
xviii). (3) The giving of the LaAv at Sinai (xix-xxiv). (4) The 
tabernacle planned (xxv-xxvii). (5) The Aaronic priesthood and 
sundry sacred services ordained (xxviii-xxxi). (O) The backslid- 
ings of the people punished, and renewal of the covenant and laws 
(xxxii-xxxiv). (7) The tabernacle constructed, reared, and filled 
with the glory of Jehovah (xxxv-xl). 

These different sections of Exodus are not designated by special 
lieadings, like those of Genesis, but are easily distinguished as so 
many subsidary portions of one whole, to which each contributes 
its share, and in the light of which each is seen to have peculiar 

Many have taken in hand to set forth in order the course of 
thought in the Epistle to the Romans. There can be subject and 
no doubt, to those who have closely studied this epistle, ^pi^^e^to the 
that, after his opening salutation and personal address, Romans, 
the apostle announces his great theme in verse 16 of the first chap- 
ter. It is the Gospel considered as the power of God unto salvation 
to every believer, to the Jeio first, and also to the Gfeel^. This is not 
formally announced as the thesis, but it manifestly expresses, in a 
happy personal way, the scope of the entire epistle. " It had for 
its end," says Alford, "the settlement, on the broad principles of 
God's truth and love, of the mutual relations and union in Christ 
of God's ancient people and the recently engrafted world. What 
wonder, then, if it be found to contain an exposition of man's un- 
worthiness and God's redeeming love, such as not even Holy Scrip- 
ture itself elsewhere furnishes ? " ^ 

In the develoj^ment of his plan the apostle first spreads out before 
^ Greek Testament ; Prolegomena to Romans. 


us an appalling jjortraiture of the heathen "svorld, and adds, that 
even the Jew, with all his advantage of God's revelation, is under 
the same condemnation; for by the law the whole world is involved 
in sin, and exposed to the righteous judgment of God. This is the 
first division (i, 18-iii, 20). The second, which extends to the close 
of the eighth chapter, and ends with a magnificent expression of 
Christian confidence and hope, discusses and illustrates the propo- 
sition stated at its beginning: "Now, apart from law, a righteous- 
ness of God has been manifested, being witnessed by the law and 
the proi)hets, even a righteousness of God through faith of Jesus 
Christ unto all them that believe" (iii, 21). Under this head we 
find unfolded the doctrine of justification by faith, and the pro- 
gressive glorification of the new man through sanctification of the 
Spirit. Then follows the apostle's vindication of the righteousness 
of God in casting off the Jews and calling the Gentiles (chaps, 
ix-xi), an argument that exhibits throughout a yearning for Is- 
rael's salvation, and closes with an outburst of wondering emo- 
tion over the " depth of riches and wisdom and knowledge of God," 
and a doxology (xi, 33-36). The concluding chapters (xii-xvi) con- 
sist of a practical application of the great lessons of the epistle in 
exhortations, counsels, and precepts for the Church, and numerous 
salutations and references to personal Christian friends. 

It will be found that a proper attention to this general plan and 
scope of the Epistle will greatly help to the understanding of its 
^smaller sections. 

Ilaving ascertaiiied the general °^^pe n nd fl ra n ftf n hn t ^ lr nf 

Scripture, we are more fully prepared to trace the context ii nd bear- 
Context of par- ^"g^ ^f its purticiilar parts. The context, as we have 
ticuiar passages, observed, maybe near or remote, according as we seek 
its immediate or more distant connexion with the particular word 
or passage in hand. It may run through a few verses or a whole 
section. The l^t twenty-six chapters of Isaiah exhibit a marked 
unity of thought and style, but they are capable of several subdivi- 
sions. The celebrated IMessianic prophecy in chapters Iii, 13-liii, 12, 
is a complete wliole in itself, but most unliappily torn asunder by 
tlie division of chapters. But, though forming a clearly defined 
section by themselves, these fifteen verses must not be severed from 
their context, or treated as if they had no vital connexion with 
Avhat precedes and what follows after. Alexander justly condemns 
" the radical error of supposing that the book is susce])tible of dis- 
tribution into detached and independent parts." ' It has its divis- 
ions more or less clearly defined, but they cling to each other, 
' Later Prophecies of Isaiah, p. 247. New York, 1847. 


and are interwoven with each other, and form a living whole. It 
is beautifully observed by Nagelsbach, that "chapters xlix-lvii are 
like a wreath of glorious flowers intertwined with black ribbon ; or 
like a song of triumph, through whose muflied tone there courses 
the melody of a dirge, yet so that gradually the mournful chords 
merge into the melody of the song of triumph. And at the same 
time the discourse of the prophet is arranged with so much art that 
the mourning ribbon ties into a great bow exactly in the middle. 
For chapter liii forms the middle of the entire prophetic cycle of 
chapters xl-lxvi." ^ 

The immediate connexion with what precedes may be thus seen : 
In lii, 1-12, the future salvation of Israel is glowingly depicted as 
a restoration more glorious than that from the bondage of Egypt 
or from Assyrian exile. Jerusalem awakes and rises from the dust 
of ruin; the captive is released from fetters; the feet of fleet mes- 
sengers speed with good tidings, and the watchmen take up the 
glad report, and sound the cry of redemption. And then (verse 11) 
an exhortation is sounded to depart from all pollution and bondage, 
and the sublime exodus is contrasted (verse 12) with the hasty 
flight from Egypt, but with the assurance that, as of old, Jehovah 
would still be as the pillar of cloud and fire before them and behind 
them. At this our passage begins, and the thought naturally turns 
to the great Leader of this spiritual exodus — a greater than JMoses, 
even thouerh that ancient servant of Jehovah was faithful in all his 
house (Num. xii, V). Our prophet proceeds to delineate Ilim whose 
sufferings and sorrows for the transgressions of his people far tran- 
scended those of Moses, and whose final triumph through the fruit 
of the travail of his soul shall be also infinitely greater. . y/ 

The much;;dispjated passage in Matt, xi, 12 can be properly ex»^ 
plained only b y special rega ^-d tn the cnntext. Literally Mntt xi, 12 ex- 
translated, the verse reads: "From the days of John gtofiiscii! 
the Baptist until now, the kingdom of the heajfens text. 
suffers violence {(iid^erai), and violent ones are seizing upon it," 
There are seven different ways in which this passage has been 

1. The violence here mentioned is explained by one class of in- 
terpreters as a hostile violetice — the kingdom is violently persecuted 
by its enemies, and violent persecutors seize on it as by storm. 
The words themselves would not unnaturally bear such a mean- 
ing, but we find nothing in the context to harmonize with a refer- 
ence to hostile forces, or violent persecution. 

2. Fritzsche translates (iid^srac by inagna vi praedicatur (is 

1 Commentary on Isaiah, lii, 13, in Lange's Biblework. 


proclaimed with great power) ; but this is contrary to the meaning 
of the word, and utterly without warrant. 

3. The most common interpretation is that which takes fiid^erai 
in a good sense, and explains it of the eager and anxious struggles 
of many to enter into the new kingdom of God. This view, how- 
ever, is open to the twofold objection, that it does not allow the 
word (3cd^Erai its proper significance, and it has no relevancy to the 
context. It could scarcely be said of the blind, the lame, the lepers, 
the deaf, the dead, and the poor, mentioned in verse 5, that they 
took the kingdom by violence, for whatever violence was exerted 
in their case proceeded not from them but from Christ. 

4. According to Lange " the expression is metaphorical, denoting 
the violent bursting forth of the kingdom of heaven, as the kernel 
of the ancient theocracy, through the husk of the Old Testament. 
John and Christ are themselves the violent who take it by force — 
the former, as commencing the assault; the latter, as completing 
the conquest. Accordingly, this is a figurative description of the 
great era which had then commenced."' So far as this ex])osition 
might describe an era which began with John, it would cer- 
tainly have relevancy to the immediate context; but no such era 
of a violent bursting forth of the kingdom of heaven had as yet 
opened. The kingdom of God was not yet come; it was only at 
hand. Besides, the making of both John and Christ the violent 
ones, in the sense of breaking open the husk of the Old Testament 
to let the kingdom of the heavens out, is a far-fetched and most 
improbable idea, 

5. Others take I3cd(^e-ai in a middle sense: the kingdom of heaven 
violently breaks in — forcibly introduces itself, or thrusts itself for- 
ward in spite of all opposition. This usage of the word may be 
allowed ; but the interpretation it offers is open to the same objec- 
tion as that of Lange just given. It cannot be shown that there 
was any such violent breaking in of the kingdom of God from the 
days of John the Bajitist to the time when Jesus spoke these words. 
Besides, it is difficult, on this view, to explain satisfactorily the 
(iiaorai, violent ones, mentioned immediately afterward. 

G. Stier combines a good and a bad sense in the use of 0idi^eTai : 
"The word has here no more and no less than its active sense, 
which passes into the middle. The kingdom of heaven proclaims 
itself loudly and openly, breaking in with violence; the poor are 
compelled (Luke xiv, 23) to enter it ; those who o})pose it are con- 
strained to take offence. In short, all things proceed urgently with 
it; it goes with mighty movement and impulse ; it works effectually 

' Commentary, in loco. 


upon all spirits on both sides and on all sides. ... Its constrain- 
ing power does violence to all ; but it excites, at the same time, in 
the case of many, obstinate opposition. He who will not submit to 
it, must be offended and resist ; and he, too, who yields to it, must 
press and struggle through this offence. Thus the kingdom of 
heaven does and suffers violence, both in its twofold influence." ' 
Hence, according to Stier, the violent ones are either good or bad, 
since both classes are compelled to take some part in the genei'al 
struggle, either for or against. This exposition, however, is with- 
out sufficient warrant in the history of the time, "from the days 
of John the Baptist until now," and it puts too many shades of 
meaning on the word (Siaorai. Besides, this view also has no clear 
relevancy to the context. 

7. We believe the ti-ue view will be attained only by giving each 
word its natural meaning, and keeping attention strictly to the con- 
text. The common meaning of (3id^(>) is to take something hy force, 
to carry hy storm, as a besieged city or fortress ; and it here refers 
most naturally to the violent and hasty efforts to seize upon tlie 
kingdom of God which had been conspicuous since the beginning of 
the ministry of John. For this view seems to be demanded by the 
context. John had heard, in his prison, about the works of Christ, 
and, anxious and impatient for the glorious manifestation of the 
Messiah, sent two of his disciples to put the dubious question, " Art 
thou he that is coming, or look we for another?" (Matt, xi, 2, 3). 
Jesus' answer (verses 4-6) was merely a statement of his mighty 
works, and of the preaching of the Gospel to the poor — Old 
Testament prophetic evidence that the days of the Messiah were 
at hand — and the tacit rebuke : " Blessed is he whosoever shall not 
be offended [aiiavdaXiadri find occasion of stumbling) in me," was 
evidently meant for John's impatience. When John's disciples 
went away Jesus at once proceeded to speak of John's char- 
acter and standing before the multitudes: When ye all flocked 
to the wilderness to hear John preach, did ye expect to find a 
wavering reed, or a finely dressed courtier? Or did ye expect, 
rather, to see a prophet? Yes, he exclaims, much more than a 
prophet. For he was the Messiah's messenger, himself prophe- 
sied of in the Scriptures (MaL iii, 1). He was greater than all the 
prophets who were before him; for he stood upon the very verge 
of the Messianic era and introduced the Christ. But, with all his 
greatness, he misunderstands the kingdom of heaven ; and from his 
days until now the kingdom of heaven suffers violence from many 
who, like him, think it may be forced into manifestation. That king- 

' Words of the Lord Jesus, in loco. 


doni comes according to an ordered progress. First, the prophets 
and the law until John — the Elijah foretold in Mai, iv, 5. John 
was but the forerunner of Christ, preparing his Avay, and Christ's 
manifestation in the flesh was not his coming in his kingdom. 
Herein, we think, expositors have generally misappreliended our 
Lord's doctrine. Thus Nast : " The Lord speaks of the absolutely 
certain and momentous fact that the kingdom of heaven has come, 
proclaims its presence, and sends forth its invitations in tones not 
to be misunderstood (verse 15)." ' We believe, on the contrary, that 
this is a grave misunderstanding of our Lord's words. He neitlier 
says, nor necessarily implies, that his kingdom has come. John's 
preaching and Christ's preaching alike declared the kingdom to be 
at hand, and not fully come. Compare Matt, iii, 2 and iv, 17. But 
from the beginning of this gospel men had been over anxious to 
have the kingdom itself appear, and in this sense it was suffering 
violence, both by an inward impatience and zeal, such as John him- 
self had just now exhibited, and by an open and outward clamour, 
such as was exhibited by those who would fain have taken Jesus 
by force and made him king (John vi, 15). This same kind of vio- 
lence is to be understood in the parallel passage in Luke xvi, 16. 
The preaching of "the Gospel of the kingdom" was the occasion of 
a violence of attitude regarding it. Eveiy man would fain enter 
violently into it. 

The Avord l3id^ETai, accordingly, denotes not altogether a hostile 
violence, nor yet, on the other hand, a commendable zeal; but it 
may combine in a measure both of these conceptions. Stier finely 
says : " In a case where exegesis perseveringly disputes which of 
the two views of a passage cai)able of tAvo senses is correct, it is 
generally found that both are one in a third deeper meaning, and 
that tlie disputants in both cases have both right and wrong in their 
argument."" The word in question may combine both tlie good and 
the bad senses of violence : not, however, in the manner in which 
Stier explains, as above, but as depicting the violent zeal of those 
who would hurry the kingdom of God into a pi-emature manifesta- 
tion. Such a zeal might be laudable in its general aim, but very 
mistaken in its spirit and plan, and therefore deserving of rebuke. 

The context of Gal. v, 4, mu t be studied in order to apprehend 
Gal. V, 4, to be the force and scope of the words: " Ye are fallen away 
untS^aLm- ^™"^ grace." The apostle is contrasting justiHcation 
text. by faitli in Christ with justification by an observance 

of the law, and he argues that these two are opposites, so that one 

' English Comnientary on Matthew, in loco. 
^ Words of the Lord Jesus, on Matt, xi, 12, 


necessarily excludes the other. He who receives circumcision as a 
means of justification (verse 2) virtually excludes Christ, whose 
gospel calls for no such work. If one seeks justification in a law 
of Avorks, he binds himself to keep the whole law (verse 3) ; for ■ 
then not circumcision only, but the whole law, must be minutely 
observed. Then, with a marked emphasis and force of words, he 
adds : " Ye were severed from Christ, whoever of you are being 
(assuming to be) justified in law, ye fell away from grace." Ye cut 
yourselves off from the system of grace {ttj^ x'^9'-'^'^^) • The word 
grace, then, is here to be understood not as a gracious attainment 
of personal experience, but as the gospel system of salvation. From 
this system they apostatized who sought justification in law, j/ 

It will be obvious from the above that the connexion of thought 
in any given passage may depend on a variety of con- ^^ 

'' . 1 o J i. J ^ Xhe connexion 

siderations. It may be a historical connexion, in that may be instoi-N 
facts or events recorded are connected in a chronolog- doKma«c°iogi- 
ical sequence. It may be historico-dogmatic, in that a cai, or psycho- 
doctrinal discourse is connected with some historic fact 
or circumstance. It maybe a logical connexion, in that the thoughts 
or arguments are j^resented in logical order; or it may be psycho- 
logical, because dependent on some association of ideas. This latter 
often occasions a sudden breaking off from a line of thought, and 
may serve to explain some of the parenthetical passages and in- 
stances of anacoluthon so frequent in the writings of Paul. ^ 

Too much stress cannot well be laid upon the importance of 
closely studying the context, scope, and plan, Many_a importance of 
passage of Scrii^ture Avill not l»e understood at all with- context? scope! 
out the help afforded by the context; for many a sen- and plan, 
tence derives all its point and force from the connexion in which 
it .stands. So, again, a whole section may depend, for its proper /^ 
exposition, upon our understanding the scope and plan of the 
writer's argument. How futile would be a proof text drawn 
from the Book of Job unless, along with the citation, it were ob- 
served whether it were an utterance of Job himself, or of one of his 
three friends, or of Elihu, or of the Almighty ! Even Job's celebrated 
utterance in chapter xix, 25-27, should be viewed in reference to ^ 
the scope of the whole book, as well as to his intense anguish and 
emotion at that particular stage of the controversy.^ 

' Some religious teachers are fond of employing scriptural texts simply as mottoes, 
with little or no regard to their true connexion. Thus they too often adapt them to 
their use by imparting to them a factitious sense foreign to their proper scope and 
meaning. The seeming gain in all such cases is more than counterbalanced by the 
loss and danger that attend the practice. It encourages the habit of interpreting 



"In considering the connexion of parts in a section," says David- 
„ , . , , , son, " and the anionnt of meaning they express, acute- 

Critical tact ' . . & j i ^ 5 

and ability ness and Critical tact are mucli needed. We may be 
needed. ^^^^ ^^ ^^jj ^y^Q significations of single terms, and yet be 

ntterly inadequate to unfold a continuous argument. A capacity 
for verbal analysis does not impart the talent of expounding an 
entire paragraph. Ability to discover the proper causes, the nat- 
ural sequence, the pertinency of expressions to the subject dis- 
cussed, and the delicate distinctions of thought which characterize 
particular kinds of composition, is distinct from the habit of care- 
fully ti-acing out the various senses of separate terms. It is a 
higher faculty; not the child of diligence, but rather of original, 
intellectual ability. Attention may sharpen and improve, but can- 
not create it. All men are not endowed with equal acuteness, nor 
fitted to detect the latent links of associated ideas by their outward 
symbols. They cannot alike discern the idiosyncrasies of various 
writers as exhibited in their composition. But the verbal philolo- 
gist is not necessarily incapacitated by converse with separate signs 
of ideas from unfolding the mutual bearings of an entire ])aragrai)h. 
Imbued with a philosophic spirit, he may successfully trace the 
connexion subsisting between the various parts of a book, while he 
notes the commencement of new topics, the propriety of their posi- 
tion, the interweaving of argumentation, interruptions and digres- 
sions, and all the characteristic peculiarities exhibited in a particular 
composition. In this he may be mightily assisted bj"- a just per- 
ception of those particles which have been designated enea TT-epo- 
evra [winged words], not less than by sympathy Avith the spirit of 
the author whom he seeks to understand. By placing himself as 
much as possible in the circumstances of the writer, and contem- 
plating from the same elevation the important jthenomena to 
which his rapt mind was directed, he will be in a favourable po- 
sition for understanding the parts and proportions of a connected 

Scripture in an arbitrary and fanciful way, and thus furnishes the teachers of error 
with their most fffeotivo weaixm. The practice ciuinot be defended on any i)lea of 
ncces.<ity. The plain words of Scripture, legitimately interpreted according to their 
projier scope and context, contain a fulness and comprehensiveness of meaning suffi- 
cient for the wants of all men in all circumstances. That piety alone is robust and 
healthful which is fed, not by the fancies and speculations of the preacher who prac- 
tically puts his own genius above the word of (Jod, but by the i)ure doctrines and pre- 
cepts of the Bible, unfolded in their true connexion and meaning. Barrows, Intro- 
duction to the Study of the IJil)le, p. 455. 

' Sacred Hermeneutics, p. 240. \ 




There are portions of Scripture in the exposition of which we are 
not to look for help in the context or scope. The Book Some parts of 
of Proverbs, for example, is composed of numerous omioffTcaicon- 
separate aphorisms, many of which have no necessary text. 
connection with each other. The book itself is divisible into sev- 
eral collections of proverbs; and separate sections, like that con- 
cerning the evil woman in chapter vii, and the words of wisdom in 
chapters viii and ix, have a unity and completeness in themselves, 
through which a connected train of thought is discernible. But 
many of the proverbs are manifestly without connexion with what 
precedes or follows. Thus the twentieth and twenty-lirst chapters 
of Proverbs may be studied ever so closely, and no essential con- 
nexion of thought appears to hold any two of the verses together. 
The same will be found true of other portions of this book, which 
from its very nature is a collection of apothegms, each one of which 
may stand by itself as a concise expression of aphoristic wisdom. 
Several parts of the Book of Ecclesiastes consist of proverbs, solilo- 
quies, and exhortations, which appear to have no vital relation to 
each other. Such, especially, are to be found in chapters v-x. 
Accordingly, while the scope and general subject-matter of the 
entire book are easily discerned, many eminent critics have de- 
S])aired of finding in it any definite plan or logical arrangement. 
The Gospels, also, contain some passages which it is impossible to 
explain as having any essential connexion with either that which 
precedes or follows. 

On such isolated texts, as also on those not so isolated, a compar- 
ison of parallel passages of Scripture often throws much value of parai- 
light. For words, phrases, and historical or doctrinal lei passages. 
statements, which in one place are difficult to understand, are often 
set forth in clear light by the additional statements with which they 
stand connected elscAvhere. Thus, as shown above (pp. 215-218), 
the comparatively isolated passage in Luke xvi, 16, is much more 
clear and comprehensive when studied in the light of its context in 
Matt, xi, 12. Without the help of parallel passages, some words and 
statements of the Scripture would scarcely be intelligible. As we as- 
certain the ifsus loquendi of words from a wide collation of passages 


in which they occur, so the sense of an entire passage may be elu- 
cidated by a comparison with its parallel in another place. " The 
employment of parallel passages," says Immer, " must go hand in 
hand with attention to the connexion. The mere explanation ac- 
cording to the connexion often fails to secure the certainty that is 
desired, at least in cases where the linguistic usage .under consider- 
ation and the analogous thought cannot at the same time be other- 
wise established." ^ 

" In comparing parallels," says Davidson, " it is proper to observe 
a certain order. In tlie first place we should seek for parallels in 
the writings of the same author, as the same peculiarities of con- 
ception and modes of expression are liable to return in dilfcrent 
works proceeding from one person. There is a certain configura- 
tion of mind which manifests itself in the productions of one man. 
Eacli writer is distinguished by a style more or less his own; by 
characteristics which would serve to identify him with the emana- 
tions of his intellect, even were his name withheld. Hence the 
reasonableness of expecting parallel passages in the writings of one 
author to throw most light upon each otiier." " 

But we should also remember that the Scriptures of the Old and 
The Ribip a si-if- •^®'^^' Testaments are a world by themselves. Although 
interpreting written at sundry times, and devoted to many dilier- 
ent themes, taken altogether they constitute a self- 
interpreting book. The old rule, therefore, that " Scrijiture must 
be interpreted by Scripture," is a most important principle of sa- 
cred hermeneutics. I>ut we must avoid the danger of overstepping 
in this matter. Some have gone too far in trying to make Daniel 
explain the Revelation of John, and it is equally possible to distort 
a passage in Kings or in Chronicles by attempting to make it par- 
allel with some statement of Paul. In general we may expect to 
find the most valuable parallels in books of the same class. TTistor- 
ical passages will be likely to be paralleled with historical, prophetic 
with prophetic, poetic with poetic, and argumentative and horta- 
tory with those of like character. Hosea and Amos will be likely 
to have more in common than Genesis and Proverbs; Matthew and 
Luke will be expected to be more alike than Matthew and one of 
the Papist les of Paul, and Paul's Epistles naturally exhibit many 
parallels both of thou<rlit and lantxuaixe. 

Nor should Ave overlook the fact that almost all wo know of the 
history of the Jewish people is embodied in the Bible. The apoc- 
ryphal books of the Old Testament and the works of Josephus are 
the principal outside sources. These different books may, then, be 
* Hermeneutics of the New Testament, p. 159. ^ Hermeneutics, p. 251. 


fairly expected to interpret themselves. Their spirit and purpose 
their modes of thought and expression, their doctrinal teachings 
and, to some extent, their general subject-matter, would be natu- 
rally expected to have a self -conformity. When, upon examina- 
tion, we find that this is the case, we shall the more fully apiire- 
ciate the importance of comparing all parallel portions and readino- 
them in each other's light. 

Parallel passages have been commonly divided into two classes, 
verbal and real, according as that which constitutes the „ „ , 

. . '^ in-iiuco iiic Parallels verbal 

parallel consists m words or in like subject-matter, and real. 
Where the same word occurs in similar connexion, or in reference 
to the same general subject, the parallel is called verbal. The use 
of such parallel passages has been shown above in determining the 
meaning of words.^ Real parallels are those similar passages in 
which the likeness or identity consists, not in words or phrases, but 
in facts, subjects, sentiments, or doctrines. Parallels of this kind 
are sometimes subdivided into historic and didactic, according as 
the subject-matter consists of historical events or matters of doc- 
trine. But all these divisions are, perhaps, needless refinements. 
The careful expositor will consult all parallel passages, whether 
they be verbal, historical, or doctrinal; but in actual interpretation 
he will find little occasion to discriminate formally between these 
different classes. 

The great thing to determine, in every case, is whether the pas- 
sages adduced are really parallel. A verbal parallel „ „ , 

^' . Parallels must 

may be as real as one that embodies many correspond- bave a real cor- 
ing sentiments, for a single word is often decisive of a ''e^P'^"''*^'^*^^- 
doctrine or a fact. On the other hand, there may be a likeness of 
sentiment without any real parallelism. Proverbs xxii, 2, and 
xxix, 13, are usually taken as parallels, but a close inspection will 
show that though there is a marked similarity of sentiment, there 
is no essential identity or real parallelism. The first passage is: 
"Rich and poor meet together; maker of all of them is Jehovah." 
We need not assume that this meeting together is in the grave (Co- 
nant) or in the conflicts (^traCJ) of life in a hostile sense. The sec- 
ond passage, properly rendered, is: "The poor and the man of 
oppressions meet together; an enlightener of the eyes of both of 
them is Jehovah." Here the mon of oppressioris is not necessarily 
a rich man; nor is enlightener of the eyes an equivalent of maimer in 
xxii, 2. Hence, all that can be properly said of these two passages 
is, that they are similar in sentiment, but not strictly parallel or 
identical in sense. 

'See above, pages 186, ISY. 


A careful comparison of the parables of the talents (Matt, xxv, 
ii-30) and of the pounds (Luke xix, 11-27) "will show that they 
liave much in common, together with not a fcAv things that are dif- 
ferent. They were spoken at different times, in different places, 
and to different hearers. The parable of the talents deals only 
with the servants of the lord who went into a far country; that of 
the pounds deals also with his citizens and enemies Avho would not 
have him reign over them. Yet the great lesson of the necessity 
of diligent activity for the Lord in his absence is the same in both 

A comparison of parallel passages is necessary in order to deter- 
The word hate mine tlie sense of the word hate in Luke xiv, 26 : " If 
jiiustrated hy ^ comes uuto me, and hates not his father, and 

parallel pas- J _ ' _ ' _ 

sages. mother, and wife, and children, and brothers, and sis- 

ters, and even his own life besides, he cannot be my disciple." This 
statement appears at first to contravene the fifth commandment of 
the decalogue, and also to involve other unreasonable demands. It 
seems to stand opposed to the Gospel doctrine of love. But, turn- 
ing to Matt. X, 37, we find the statement in a milder form, and 
woven in a context which serves to disclose its full force and bear- 
ing. Tliere the statement is: "He that loveth father or mother 
more than me is not worthy of me ; and he that loveth son or daugh- 
ter more than me is not worthy of me." The immediate context 
of this verse (verses 34-39), a characteristic passage of our Lord's 
more ardent utterances, sets its meaning in a clear light. " Do not 
^ think," he says, verse 34, "that I came to send peace 
'on the earth; I came not to send peace but a sword." 
He sees a world lying in wickedness, and exhibiting all forms of 
opposition to his messages of truth. With such a world he can 
make no compromise, and have no peace without, first, a bitter 
conflict. Such conflict he, therefore, purposely invites. He will 
conquer a peace, or else have none at all. " Tlie telic style of ex- 
pression is not only rhetorical, indicating that the result is unavoid- • 
able, but what Jesus expresses is a purpose — not the final design of 
his coming, but an intermediate purpose — in seeing clearly pre- 
sented to his view the reciprocally hostile excitement as a necessary 
transition, Avhich he therefore, in keeping Avith his destiny as 
Messiah, must be sent first of all to bring forth." ' Before his 
final purpose is accomplished he sees what bitter strifes must come; 
but the grand result will be well worth all the intermediate woes. 
Therefore he will call father, mother, child, although it cause many 
household divisions; aiul so he adds, as explaining how he Avill send 
' Meyer, Critieal and Exegctical Commentary, in loco. 


a sword rather than peace : " For I came to set a man at variance 
against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the' 
daughter-in-law against her mother-in-law ; and a man's foes shall 
be they of his own household." When this state of things shall 
come to pass, how many will be called upon to decide whether they 
will cleave to Christ, or to an unchristian father? Micah's words 
(vii, 6) will then be true. Son will oppose father, daughter will 
rise up against mother, and if one remains true to the Lord Christ, 
lie Avill have to forsake his own household and kin. He cannot be 
a true disciple and love his parents or children more than Christ. 
Hence he must needs set them aside, forsake them, love them less, 
and even oppose them, assuming toward them the hostile attitude 
of an enemy for Christ's sake. The import of hate, in Luke xiv, 26, 
is accordingly made clear. 

This peculiar meaning of the word is further confirmed by its use 
in Matt, vi, 24 : " No man can serve two masters : for 
either he will hate the one, and love the other ; or else 
he will hold to the one, and des2:)ise the other. Ye cannot serve God 
and Mammon." Two masters, so opposite in nature as God and 
Mammon, cannot be loved and seiwed at one and the same time. The 
love of the one necessarily excludes the love of the other, and nei- 
ther will be served with a divided heart. In the case of such essen- 
tial opposites, a lack of love for one amounts to a disloyal enmitj' — 
the root of all hatred. Another parallel, illustrative of this impres- 
sive teaching, is to be found in Deut. xiii, 6-11, where it is enjoined 
that, if brother, son, daughter, wife, or friend entice one to idolatry, 
he shall not only not consent, but he shall not have pity on the 
seducer, and shall take measures to have him publicly punished as 
an enemy of God and his people. Hence we derive the lesson that 
one who opposes our love and loyalty to God or Christ is the worst 
possible enemy. Compare also John xii, 25; Rom. ix, 13; Mai. 
i, 2, 3; Deut. xxi, 15. 

The true interpretation of Jesus' words to Peter, in Matt, xvi, 18, 
will be fully apprehended only by a comparison and careful study 
of all the parallel texts. Jesus says to Peter, "Thou ^^^^^ ^ jj^.^^ 
art Peter (Trt'rpof), and upon this petra (or rock, ettl stone. Matt. xvi, 
ravTij TTj Trerpa), will I build my Church, and the 
gates of Hades shall not prevail against her." Hoav is it possible 
from this passage alone to decide whether the rock (nerQa) refers 
to Christ (as Augustine and Wordsworth), or to Peter's confession 
(Luther and many Protestant divines), or to Peter himself? It is 
noticeable that in the parallel passages of Mark (viii, 27-30) and 
Luke (ix, 18-21) these words of Christ to Peter do not occur. The 


immediate context presents us with Simon Peter, as the spokesman 
and representative of the disciijles, answering Jesus' question with 
the bold and confident confession, " Tliou art the Christ, the Son of 
the living God." Jesus was evidently moved by the fervid words 
of Peter, and said to him, " Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona, for 
flesh and blood revealed it not to thee, but my Father Avho is in the 
heavens." Whatever knowledge and convictions of Jesus' messiah- 
ship and divinity the disciples had attained before, this noble con- 
fession of Peter possessed the newness and glory of a special revela- 
tion. It was not the offspring of "flesh and blood," that is, not of 
natural human birth or origin, but the S])ontancous outburst of a 
divine inspiration from heaven. Peter was for the moment caught 
up by the Spirit of God, and, in the glowing fervour of such in- 
spiration, spoke the very word of the Father. He was accordingly 
pronounced the blessed {^aKd^iog) or happy one. 

Turning now to the narrative of Simon's introduction to the 
John 1,41-13 Saviour (John i, 41-43), we compare the first mention 
compared. of the name Peter. He was led into the presence of 
Jesus by his own brother Andrew, and Jesus, gazing on him, said, 
" Thou art Simon, the son of Jonah ; thou shalt be called Cephas, 
which is interpreted Peter" (Trerpof). Thus, at the beginning, he 
tells him what he is and what he shall he. A doubtful character at 
that time was Simon, the son of Jonah; irritable, impetuous, un- 
stable, irresolute; but Jesus saw a coming hour when he would be- 
come the bold, strong, abiding, memorable stone (Peter), the typ- 
ical and representative confessor of the Christ. Reverting again 
to the passage in Matthew, it is easy to see that, through his in- 
spired confession of the Christ, the Son of the living God, Simon 
has attained the ideal foreseen and foretold by his Lord. He has 
now become Peter indeed ; now " thou art Peter," not " shalt be 
called Peter." Accordingly, we cannot avoid the conviction that 
the manifest play on the words ^>e^/-os and petra (in Matt, xvi, 18.) 
has a designed and important significance, and also an allusion to 
the first bestowal of the name on Simon (John i, 43) ; as if the Lord 
had said : Remember, Simon, the significant name I gave thee at 
our first meeting. Then I said. Thou shalt be called Peter; now 
I say unto thee. Thou art Peter. 

But there is doubtless a designed significance in the change from 
Petros and petros to petra, in Matt, xvi, 1 8. It is altogether prob- 
petra. ^1,1^ tXxat there was a corresponding change in llie 

Aramaic words used by our Lord on this occasion. He may, per- 
haps, have said: "Thou art Keph (f)'? or riS"'3), and upon tliis 
kepha (t^D'S) I will build my Church." What, then, is meant by 


the neTQa, ^^c^ra, on which Christ huilds his Church? In answer- 
ing this question we inquire what other scriptures say about the 
buihling of the Church, and in Eph. ii, 20-22 we find it written 
that Cliristian believers constitute " the household of Ephesians ii 
God, having been built upon the foundation of the 20-23 compared. 
apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the chief corner- 
stone ; in whom all the building, fitly framed together, grows unto 
a holy temple in the Lord ; in whom ye also are builded together 
for a habitation of God in the Spirit." Having made the natural 
and easy transition from the figure of a household to that of the 
structure in Avhich the household dwells, the apostle speaks of the 
latter as "built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets." 
The prophets here intended are doubtless the New Testament 
prophets referred to in chapters iii, 5 and iv, ] 1. 

The foundation of the apostles and proj^heis has been explained 
(1) as a genitive of apposition — the foundation which ^ , .. 

) ' . ® ^^ Foundation of 

is constituted of apostles and prophets; that is, the the apostles 
apostles and prophets are themselves the. foundation ^°^ prophets. 
(so Chrysostom, Olshausen, De Wette, and many others) ; (2) as a 
genitive of the originating cause — the foundation laid by the 
apostles (Calvin, Koppe, Harless, Meyer, Eadie, Ellicott) ; (3) as a 
genitive of possession — the apostles and prophets' foundation, that 
is, the foundation upon which they as well as all other believers are 
builded (Beza, Bucer, Alford). We believe that in the breadth 
and fulness of the apostle's conception, there is room for all these 
thoughts, and a wnder comparison of Scripture corroborates this 
view. In Gal, ii, 9, James, Cephas, and John are spoken of as 
pillars {gtvXqi), foundation-pillars, or columnar supports of the 
Church. In the apocalyptic vision of the New Jerusalem, which is 
"the bride, the wife of the Lamb" (Rev. xxi, 9), it is said that 
" the wall of the city has twelve foundations, and upon 
them twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb" 
(Rev. xxi, 14). Here it is evident that the apostles are conceived 
as foundation-stones, forming the substructure of the Church; and 
with this conception "the foundation of the apostles and prophets" 
(Eph. ii, 20) may be taken as genitive of apposition. But in 1 Cor. 
iii, 10, the apostle speaks of himself as a wise architect, 
laying a foundation {pe\iiXiov edrjKa, a foundation I 
laid). Immediately after (verse 11) he says: "Other foundation 
can no one lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." This 
foundation Paid himself laid when he founded the Church of Cor- 
inth, and first made kno^vn there the Lord Jesus Christ. Having 
once laid this foundation, no man could lay another, although he 


might build thereupon. Paul himself could not have laid another 
had some one else been first to lay this foundation in Corinth 
(compare Rom. xv, 20). How he laid this foundation he tells in 
chap, ii, 1-5, especially when he says (verse 2) "I determined not 
to know any thing among you except Jesus Christ, and him cruci- 
fied." So then, in this sense, Ejjhesians ii, 20 may be taken as gen- 
itive of the originating cause — the foundation which the apostles 
laid. At the same time we need not overlook or ignore the fact 
presented in 1 Cor. iii, 11, that Jesus is himself the foundation, that 
is, Jesus Christ — including his person, work, and doctrine — is the 
great fact on which the Church is builded, and without which there 
could be no redemption. Hence the Church itself, according to 
1 Tim. iii, 15, is the "pillar and basis (etfpa/wfia) of the truth." 
Accordingly we hold that the expression " foundation of the apostles 
and prophets" (Eph. ii, 20) has a fulness of meaning which may in- 
clude all these thoughts. The apostles were themselves incorj:>or- 
ated in this foundation, and made pillars or foundation stones; 
they, too, were instrumental in laying this foundation and building 
upon it ; and having laid it in Christ, and woi'king solely tlirough 
Christ, without whom they could do nothing, Jesus Christ himself, 
as preached by them, Avas also conceived as the underlying basis 
and foundation of all (1 Cor. iii, 11). 

Another Scripture, in 1 Peter ii, 4, 5, should also be collated 
1 Peter ii, 4, 5, here, for it was written by the apostle to whom the 
compared. words of Matt, xvi, 18, were addressed, and seems to 
have been with him a thought that lingered like a i:)recious mem- 
ory in the soul: "To whom (i. e., the gracious Lord just mentioned) 
approaching, a living stone, by men indeed disallowed, but before 
God chosen, precious, do ye also yourselves, as living stones, be 
built up a spiritual house." Here the Lord is himself presented as 
the elect and precious corner-stone (comp. verse 6), and at the same 
time Christian believers are also represented as living stones, built 
into the same spiritual temple. 

Coming back now to the text in Matt, xvi, 18, which Schaff pro- 
nounces " one of the prof oundest and most far-reaching prophetical, 
but, at the same time, one of the most controverted, sayings of the 
Saviour," ' we are furnished, by the above collation of cognate Scrip- 
tures, with the means of apprehending its true impoi't and signifi- 
cance. Filled with a divine inspiration, Peter confessed his Lord 
Christ, to the glory of God the Father (compare 1 John iv, 15, and 
Rom. x, 9), and in that blessed attainment and confession he be- 

' Lange's Commentary on Matthew, translated and annotated by Phillip Schaff, 
p. 293. New York, 1864. Compare also Meyer, Alford, and Nast, in loco. 


came the representative or ideal Christian confessor. In view of 
this, Jesus says to him: Now thou art Peter; thou art become a 
living stone, the type and representative of the multitude of livins^ 
stones upon which I will build my Church. The change from the 
masculine nergGg to the feminine nerpa fittingly indicates that it is 
not so much on Peter, the man, the single and separate individual, 
as on Peter considered as the confessor, the type and representa- 
tive of all other Christian confessors, who are to be " builded to- 
gether for a habitation of God in the Spirit " (Eph. ii, 22). 

In the light of all these Scriptures we may see the impropriety 
and irrelevancy of what has been the prevailing Prot- Error of the 
estant interpretation, namely, making the nerpa, rock, coinmon prot- 
to be Peter's confession. " Every building," says Nast, pretation of 
"must have foundation stones. What is the founda- ^^'^P°- 
tion of the Christian Church on the part of man ? Is it not — what 
Peter exhibited — a faith wrought in the heart by the Holy Ghost, 
and a confession with the mouth that Jesus is the Christ, the Son 
of the living God ? But this believing with the heart and confess- 
ing with the mouth is something pei'sonal; it cannot be separated 
from the living personality that believes and confesses. The 
Church consists of living men, and its foundation cannot be a mere 
abstract truth or doctrine apart from the living personality in 
which it is embodied. This is in accordance with the whole New 
Testament language, in which not doctrines or confessions, but 
men, are uniformly called pillars or foundations of the spiritual 
building." ' 

It is well known how large a portion of the three synoptic Gos- 
pels consists of parallel narratives of the words and works cf 

' Commentary on the Gospels of Matthew and Mark, in loco. To the Roman Cath- 
olic interpretation, which explains these words as investing Peter and his successors 
with a permanent primacy at Rome, Schaff opposes the following insuperable objec- 
tions : (1) It obliterates the distinction lietv/een petros and jxtra ; Q2) it is inconsistent 
with the true nature of the architectural figure : the foundation of a building is one 
and abiding, and not constantly renev/ed and changed ; (3) it confounds priority of 
time with permanent superiority of rank ; (4 ) it confounds the apostolate, which, strict- 
ly speaking, is not transferable, but confined to the original personal disciples of 
Christ and inspired organs of the Holy Spirit, with the post-apostolic episcopate ; (5) it 
involves an injustice to the other apostles, who, as a body, are expressly called the 
foundation or foundation-stones of the Church ; (6) it contradicts the whole spirit of 
Peter's epistles, which is strongly antihierarchical, and disclaims any superiority over 
his ' fellow-presbyters ; ' (7) finally, it rests on gratuitous assumjitions which can 
never be proven either exegetically or historically, viz., the transferability of Peter's 
primacy, and its actual transfer upon the bishop, not of Jerusalem, nor of Antioch 
(where Peter certainly was), but of Rome exclusively." See Lange's Matthev,-, in 
loco, page 297. 


Jesus. St. Paul's account of the appearances of Jesus after the 
resurrection (xv, 4-V), and of the institution of the 

Large portions ^ , . . ,, i <■ 

of scripture Lord's Supper (xi, 23-26), are well worthy of comparison 
parauei. ^^,-^|^ ^^le several Gospel narratives.' The Epistles of Paul 

to the Romans and to the Galatians, being each so largely devoted 
to the doctrine of righteousness through faith, should be studied 
together, for they have many parallels which help to illustrate each 
other. Not a few parallel passages of the Ephesian and Colossian 
Epistles throw light upon each other. The second and third chap- 
ters of 2 Peter should be studied and expounded in connexion 
with the Epistle of Jude. The genealogies of Genesis, Chronicles, 
and Matthew and Luke, should be compared, as also large sections 
of the books of Samuel, Kings, Chronicles, Ezra, and Nehemiah. 
We have in the Acts of the Apostles three separate accounts of 
Paul's conversion (chaps, ix, xxii, and xxvi), and all these illustrate 
and supplement each other. The many passages of the Old Testa- 
ment which are quoted or referred to in the New, are also parallels; 
but they are so specific in their nature as to call for special treat- 
ment in a future chapter. 

' More than common discretion must be exercised by the interpreter of the New 
Testament with regard to the parallel passages in the Gospels, particularly in the 
synoptical Gospels. With respect to the latter chiefly, they often relate the same 
thing, sometimes they communicate the same conversation or saying of Jesus, but not 
in the same words. We have here, then, different accounts of the same occurrence 
or tiling. But now the interpreter has no right to conclude from one evangelist to 
anotlier without any limitation, and e. g. to explain and supplement the words of the 
Saviour, as recorded by one narrator, out of the account of another. For, in any 
ditierence in the accounts, the question is, ivhat Jesus actually said. We must com- 
mence there, by making a distinction between what was actually said and what is 
communicated concerning it ; and with this last the interpreter has to deal. For in- 
stance, according to Matt, vi, 11, Jesus taught them to pray in the "Lord's Prayer:" 
(Jive us " this day " our daily bread ; according to Luke xi, 3 : Give us "day by day," 
etc. Now we have no right to say : therefore, this day = day by day. In the same 
prayer Matthew has it : " as we forgive," etc. (thus, standard) ; Luke : " for wo also 
forgive," etc. (thus, reason for hearing the prayer). Now we may not say that the 
one is equal to the other. In like manner, also, we may not explain 1 Cor. xiv and 
Acts ii, 4-13 out of each other, and so confound them with each other. In the latter 
passage there is indeed mention of other (strange) languages {Irepai yAuaaaC), in the 
former, on the contrary, not a word is .^aid of " other " languages, but of tongues 
{y'/.uaaat) ; and in Acts ii the context of the narrative compels us quite as nuich 
to think of strange languages, as the context in 1 Cor. xiv decidedly forbids it. — 
Uoedes, Manual of Ilermeueutics, pp. 100, lOL 




It is of the first importance, in interpreting a written document, to 
ascertain who the author was, and to determine the , ^ „„ „, 

iniport&DCG or 

time, the place, and the circumstances of his writing, the historical 
The interpreter should, therefore, endeavour to take ^ ^^ ^°"^ ' 
himself from the present, and to transport himself into the his- 
torical position of his author, look through his eyes, note his sur- 
roundings, feel with his heart, and catch his emotion. Herein we 
note the import of the term gravauiatico-historical interpretation. 
We are not only to grasp the grammatical import of words and 
sentences, but also to feel the force and bearing of the historical 
circumstances which may in any way have affected the writer. 
Hence, too, it will be seen how intimately connected may be the 
object or design of a writing and the occasion which prompted its 
composition. The individuality of the writer, his local surround- 
inirs, his wants and desires, his relation to those for whom he 
wrote, his nationality and theirs, the character of the times when 
he wrote — all these matters are of the first importance to a thor- 
ough interpretation of the several books of Scripture. 

A knowledge of geography, history, chronology, and antiquities, 
has already been mentioned as an essential qualification j-^^g^gj^g j^jg. 
of the biblical interpreter.^ Especially should he have toricai unowi- i 
a clear conception of the order of events connected 'r genecessary. y 
with the whole course of sacred history, such as the contempora-, 
neous history, so far as it may be known, of the great nations and 
tribes of patriarchal times; the great world-powers of Egypt, As- 
syria, Babylon, and Persia, with which the Israelites at various 
times came in contact ; the Macedonian Empire, with its later 
Ptolemaic and Seleucidaie branches, from which the Jewish people 
suffered many woes, and the subsequent conquest and dominion of 
the Romans. The exegete should be able to take his standpoint , 
anywhere along this line of history wherever he may find the age • 
of his author, and thence vividly grasp the outlying circumstances. 
He should seek a familiarity with the customs, life, spirit, ideas, 
and pursuits of these different times and different tribes and 

' See above, pp. 154, 156. 


nations, so as to distinguish readily Avliat belonged to one and what 
to another. By such knowledge he will be able not only to transport 
himself into any given age, but also to avoid confounding the ideas 
of one age or race with those of another. 

It is not an easy task for one to disengage himself from the liv- 
To transfer one- ing present, and thus transport himself into a past age. 
lo'^he^'remote "^^ ^® advance in general knowledge, and attain a 
past not eiisy. higher civilization, we unconsciously grow out of old 
habits and ideas. We lose the spirit of the olden times, and be- 
come filled with the broader generalization and more scientific pro- 
cedures of modern thought. The immensity of the universe, the 
vast accumulations of human study and research, the influence of 
great civil and ecclesiastical institutions, and the power of tradi- 
tional sentiment and opinions, govern and shape our modes of 
thought to an extent we hardly know. To tear oneself away from 
these, and go back in spirit to the age of Moses, or David, or 
Isaiah, or Ezra, or of Matthew and Paul, and assume the historic 
standpoint of any of those writers, so as to see and feel as they 
did — this surely is no easy task. Yet, if we truly catch the spirit 
and feel the living force of the ancient oracles of God, we need to 
apprehend them somewhat as they first thrilled the hearts of those 
for whom they wei'e immediately given. 

Not a few devout readers of the Bible are so impressed with ex- 
Undue exaita- alted ideas of the glory and sanctity of the ancient 
saintf to^"*be Worthies, that Jiey are liable to take the record of their 
avoided. lives in an unnatural light. To some it is difficult to 

believe that Moses and Paul were not acquainted with the events 
of modern times. The wisdom of Solomon, they imagine, must 
have comprehended all that man can know. Isaiah and Daniel 
must have discerned all future events as clearly as if they had 
already occurred. The writers of the New Testament must have 
known Avhat a history and an influence their lifework would jjossess 
in after ages. To such minds the names of Abraham, Jacob, 
Joshua, Jephthah, and Samson, are so associated with holy 
thoughts and supernatural revelations that they half forget that 
they were men of like passions with ourselves. Such an undue 
exaltation of the sanctity of the biblical saints Avill be likely to 
interfere with a true historical exposition. The divine call and 
inspiration of prophets and apostles did not nullify or set aside 
their natural human powers, and the biblical interpreter should not 
allow his vision to be so dazzled by the glory of their divine mis- 
sion as to make him blind to facts of their history. Abraham's 
cunning and deceit, conspicuous also in Isaac and Jacob, Moses' 


hasty passions, and the barbarous brutality of most of the judges 
and kings of Israel, are not to be explained away. They are facts 
which the interpreter must fully recognize; and the more fully and 
vividly ail such facts are realized and set in their true lig-ht and 
bearing, the more accurately shall we apprehend the real impoit of 
the Scriptures. 

In the exposition oLih£L£salms.„im fi_of the first. i Iujj£:a.lQii]Lq-uire^-. 
after is the personal standpoint of the author. " The „. , . , 

_t^ J.. ■^" ^ ,.,. — Historical oc- 

historicaToccasions of the Psalms," says HiBbard, " have casions of the 
ever been regarded, by judicious commentators, as im- ^^ "^^' 
portant aids to their interpretation, and the full exhibition of their 
beauty and power. In the explanation of a work on exact science, 
or of a metaphysical essay, no importance is attached to the exter- 
nal circumstances and place of the author at the time of writing. 
In such a case the work has no relation to passing events, but to 
the abstract and essential relations of things. Very different is^ the 
language of poetry, and indeed of almost all such books as the sa- 
cred Scriptures are, which were at first addressed to a particular 
peof)le, or to particular individuals, for their moral benefit, and 
much of them occupied with the personal experiences of their 
authors. Here occasion, contact with outward things, the influence 
of external circumstances and of passing events, play a conspicu- 
ous part iu giving mould and fashion to the thoughts and feelings 
of the writer, scope and design to his subject, and meaning rnd 
pertinency to his words. It may be said of the Hebrew poets, as 
of those of all other nations, that the interpretation of their poetry 
is less dependent on verbal criticism than on sympathy with the 
feelings of the author, knowledge of his circumstances, and atten- 
tion to the scope and drift of his utterances. You must place 
yourself in his condition, adopt his sentiments, and be floated on- 
ward with the current of his feelings, soothed by his consolations, 
or agitated by the storm of his emotions." * 

Of many of the Psalms it is impossible now to determine the 
historical standpoint; but not a few of them are so clear in their 
allusions as to leave no reasonable doubt as to the occasion on 
which they were composed. There is, for example, no good rea- 
son for doubting the genuineness of the inscription to the third 
psalm, Avhich refers the composition to David when he fled from 
the face of his son Absalom. " From verse 5 we gather," says 
Perowne, "that the psalm is a morning hymn. With returning 
day there comes back on the monarch's heart the recollection of 

' The Psalms, Chronologically Arranged, with Historical Introductions, General In- 
troduction, page 12. New York, 1856. 



tlie enemies wlio threaten him — a nation up in arms against him, 
his own son heading the rebellion, his wisest and most trusted 
counsellor in the ranks of his foes (2 Sam. xv-xvii). Never, not 
even when hounded by Saul, had he found his position one of 
greater danger. The odds were overwhelmingly against him. 
This is a fact which he does not attempt to hide from himself: 
'How mcmy are mine enemies;' 'many rise up against me;' ' many 
say to my soul;' 'ten tJioxisands of the people have set themselves 
against me' (verses 1, 2, 6). Meanw^hile, where are his friends, his 
army, his counsellors? Not a word of allusion to any of them in 
the psalm. Yet he is not crushed; he is not desponding. Ene- 
mies may be thick as the leaves of the forest, and earthly friends 
may be few, or uncertain, or far off. But there is one Friend who 
cannot fail him, and to him David turns with a confidence and 
affection w^hich lift him above all his fears. Never had he been 
more sensible of the reality and preciousness of the divine protec- 
tion. If he was surrounded by his enemies, Jehovah was his shield. 
If Shimei and his crew turned his glory into shame, Jehovah was 
his glory. If they sought to revile and degrade him-, Jehovah was 
the lifter-up of his head. Nor did the mere fact of distnnce from 
Jerusalem separate between him and his God. He had sent back 
the ark and the priests, for he would not endanger their safety, and 
he did not trust in them as a charm, and he knew that Jehovah 
could still hear him from 'his holy mountain' (verse 4), could still 
lift up the light of his countenance upon him, and put gladness in 
his heart (Psa. iv, C, V). Sustained by Jehovah, he had laid him 
down and slept in safety; trusting in the same mighty protection 
he would lie down again to rest. Enemies might taunt him, 
(verse 2), and friends might, fail him, but the victory was Jeho- 
vah's, and he could break the teeth of the ungodly " (vii, 8).' 

Tlie liistorical standpoint of a writer is so often intimately cax\-\ 
conskiiT the nectcd with his situation at the date of writing, that 

the'tiniVofthe ^^^^ ^^^^ ^^"^^ '"^"^ ^^^^ \^^^^^ ^^ the composition should 
composition. be considei'cd together. The locality of the incidents 
recorded should also be closely studied and pictured before the 
mind. It adds much to one's knowledge and appreciation of bib- 
lical history to visit the lands trodden by patriarchs, prophets, and 
apostles. Seeing Palestine is, indeed, a fifth gospel. A jiersonal 
visit to Beer-shel)a, Hebron, Jerusalem, Joppa, Nazareth, and the 
Sea of Galilee, affords a realistic sense of sacred narratives con- 
nected with these places such as cannot otherwise be had. The 

' The Book of Psalms, New Translation, with Introductions and Notes. Introduction 
to Psalm iii. Andover, 1876. 


decalogue and the laws of Moses become more awful and impres- 
sive when read upon Mount Sinai, and the Lord's figony in the 
garden thrills the soul with deeper emotion when meditated in the 
Kedron valley, beneath the old trees at the foot of the Mount of 

What a vividness and reality appear in the Epistles of Paul when_ 

we study them in connexion with tlie account of his 

. - 1 1 T 1 1 • 1 Journeys and 

apostolic journeys and labours, and the physical and Epistles of 

political features of the countries through which he ^^"'" 
passed! Setting out from Antioch on his second missionary tour, 
accompanied by Silas, he passed through Syria and Cilicia, visiting, 
doubtless, his early home at Tarsus (Acts xv, 40, 41). Thence he 
passed over the vast mountain-barrier on the north of Cilicia, and, 
after visiting Derbe and Lystra, where he attached Timothy to him 
as a companion in travel, he went through the region of Phrygia 
and Galatia, where, notwithstanding his physical infirmity, he was 
received as an angel of God (Gal. iv, 13). Passing westward, and 
having been forbidden to preach in the western parts of Asia Minor 
(Acts xvi, 6), he came with his companions to Troas. " The district 
of Troas," observes Howson, "extending from Mt. Ida to the plain, 
watered by the Simois and the Scamander, was the scene of the 
Trojan War; and it was due to the poetry of Homer that the an- 
cient name of Priam's kingdom should be retained. This shore had 
been visited on many memorable occasions by the great men of this 
world. Xerxes passed this way when he undertook to conquer 
Greece. Julius Cassar was here after the battle of Pharsalia. But, 
above all, we associate this spot with a European conqueror of 
Asia, and an Asiatic conqueror of Europe, with Alexander of 
Macedon and Paul of Tarsus. For here it was that the enthusiasm 
of Alexander was kindled at the tomb of Achilles by the memory 
of his heroic ancestors; here he girded on his armour, and from 
this goal he started to overthrow the august dynasties of the East. 
And now the great apostle rests in his triumphal progress upon the 
same poetic shore; here he is armed by heavenly visitants with the 
weapons of a warfare that is not carnal, and hence he is sent forth 
to subdue all the powers of the West, and bring the civilization of 
the world into captivity to the obedience of Chi-ist." * 

After the vision and the Macedonian call received at this place, 
he sailed from Troas and came to Neapolis, and thence to Philippi, 
the scene of many memorable events (Acts xvi, 12-40), and thence 
on through Amphipolis, Apollonia, Thessalonica, and Berea, to 

' Conybeare and Howson, Life and Epistles of St. Paul, vol. i, page 280. Fourth 
American Edition. New York, 1855. 




Athens. There Paul waited, alone (comp. 1 Thess. iii, 1), for his 
companions, but failed not meanwhile to preach the Gospel to the 
inquisitive Athenians, " standing in the midst of the Areopagus " 
(Acts xvii, 22). After this he passed on to Corinth, and founded 
there the Church to which he subsequently addressed two of his 
most important epistles. From Corinth, soon after his arrival, he 
sent his first epistle to the Thessalonians. From this standpoint 
how lifelike and real are all the personal allusions and reminiscences 
of this his first epistle ! But that letter, in its vivid allusions to the 
near coming of the Lord, awakened great excitement among the 
Thessalonians, and only a few months afterward we find him writ- 
ing his second epistle to them to allay this trouble of their minds, 
and to assure them that that day is not so near but that several 
important events must first come to pass (2 Thess. ii, 1-8). A 
grouping of all these facts and suggestions adds vastly to one's 
interest in the study of Paul's epistles. 

Without pursuing further the course of the a])ostles life and 
labours, enough has been said to show what light and interest a 
knowledge of the time and place of writing gives to the Epistles of 
Paul. The situation and condition of the churches and persons ad- 
dressed in his epistles should also be carefully sought out. His 
subsequent epistles, especially those to the Corinthians, and those of 
his imprisonment, would be shorn of half their interest and value 
but for the knowledge we elsewhere obtain of the i)ersons, inci- 
dents, and places to which references are made. Wluit a tender 
charm hangs about the Epistle to the Pliilippians from our knowl- 
edge of the apostle's first experiences in that Roman colony, liis 
subsequent visits there, and the thought that he is writing from liis 
imprisonment in Rome, and making frequent mention of his bonds 
(Phil, i, 7, 13, 14), and of their former kindnesses toward him (iv, 

Thorough inquiries into the narratives of Scripture have evinced 
i„ , . the minute accuracy of the sacred writers, and silenced 

Such inquiries , '' ' . 

silence inauei many cavils of infidelity. The treatise of James Smith 
teaviia. ^^ ^YiQ Voyage and Shipwreck of St. Paul " furiiishcs_an 

unanswerable argument for the authenticity „of_jhe__Acts of the 
Apostles. The author's practical experience as a sailor, his resi- 
dence at Malta, his familiar intercourse with the seamen of tlie 
Levant, and his study of the ships of the ancients, qualified liim 

'Stanley's History <>f the Jewish Church, Farrar's and Gcikic's works on the Life of 
Christ, and Farrar's, Conyticare and IIowsoii's, and Lcwin's Life and Epistles of St. 
Paul, are especially rich in illustrations of the subject of this chapter. 

« Third Edition. London, 1866. 


pre-eminently to expound the last two chapters of the Acts. Ills 
volume is a monument of painstaking research, and throws more 
light upon the narrative of Paul's voyage from Caesarea to Rome 
than all that had been written previously on that subject.' , / 

The gi'eat importance of ascertaining the historical standpoint-^ 
of an author is notably illustrated by the controversy 

*' n T ^ -r-i ^^^ historical 

over the date or the Apocalypse ot John. It that j^ro- standpoint of 
phetical book was written before the destruction of ti^e Apocalypse. 
Jerusalem, a number of its particular allusions must most naturally 
be understood as referring to that city and its fall. If, however, it 
was written at the end of the reign of Domitian (about A. D. 96), 
as many have believed, another system of interpretation is neces- 
sary to explain the historical allusions. 

Taking, first, the external evidence touching the date of the 
Apocalypse, it seems to us that no impartial mind can fail to see 
that it preponderates in favor of the later date. But when wc 
scrutinize the character and extent of this evidence, it seems equally 
clear that no very great stress can safely be laid upon it. For it 
all turns upon the single testimony of Irenseus, who 
wrote, according to the best authorities, about one hun- mony hangs oa 
dred years after the death of John, and who says that ^'"^'i®'^- 
in boyhood he had seen and conversed with Polycarp, and heard 
him speak of his familiar intercourse with John." This fact would, 
of course, make his testimony of peculiar value, but, at the same 
time, it should be borne in mind that at an early age he removed to 

' The following passage from Lewin is a noteworthy illustration of the value of 
personal research in refuting captious objections to the historical accuracy of the Bi- 
ble. " It is objected to the account of the viper fastening upon Paul's hand," says 
Lewin, " that there is no wood in Malta, except at Bosquetta, and that there are 
no vipers in Malta. How, then, it is said, could the apostle have collected the sticks, 
and how could a viper have fastened upon his hand ? But when I visited the Bay of 
St. Paul, in 1851, by sea, I observed trees growing in the vicinity, and there were also 
fig-trees growing among the rocks at the water's edge where the vessel was wrecked. 
But there is a better explanation still. When I was at Malta in 1853, I went with 
two companions to the Bay of St. Paul by land, and this was at the same season of 
the year as when the wreck occurred. We now noticed on the shore, just opposite 
the scene of the wreck, eight or nine stacks of small faggots, and in the nearest stack 
I counted twenty-five bundles. They consisted of a kind of thorny heather, and had 
evidently been cut for firewood. As we strolled about, my companions, whom I had 
quitted to make an observation, put up a viper, or a reptile having the appearance of 
one, which escaped into the bundle of sticks. It may not have been poisonous, but 
was like an adder, and was quite different from the common snake ; one of my fel- 
low-travellers was quite familiar with the difference between snakes and adders, and 
could not well be mistaken." — The Life and Epistles of St. Paul, vol. ii, page 208. 


Eusebius, Ecclesiastical History, book v, chap. 



the remote West, and became bishop of Lyons, in France, far from 
the associations of his early life. It would, therefore, have been no 
strano-e thing if he had somewhat confounded names and dates. 
His testimony is as follows : " We therefore do not run the risk of 
pronouncing positively concerning the name of the Antichrist [hid- 
den in the number 606, Rev. xiii, 18], for if it were necessary to 
have his name distinctly announced at the present time, it would 
doubtless have been announced by him who saw the Apocalypse; 
for it is not a great while ago that it [or he] was seen {ov6e ydp ttqo 
TToXXov xQovov eo)pd^7]), but almost in our own generation, toward 
the end of Domitian's reign." ' Here it should be noted that the 
subject of the verb kiogadr], was seen, is ambiguous, and may be 
either it, referring to the Apocalypse, or he, referring to John him- 
self. But allowing it to refer to the Apocalypse, we have then this 
testimony to the later date. 

But what external testimony have we besides? Only Eusebius, 
who lived and wrote a hundred years after Irenreus, and who ex- 
pressly quotes Irenseus as his authority.^ He also quotes Clement 
of Alexandria as saying that "after the tyrant was dead" John 
returned from the isle of Patmos to Ephesus.^ But it nowhere 
appears that Clement indicated who the tyrant was, or that he be- 
lieved him to have been Domitian. It is Eusebius who puts that 
meaning in his words, and it is matter of notoriety that Eusebius 
himself, after quoting various opinions, leaves the question of the 
authorship of the Apocalypse in doubt.* Origen's testimony is also 
adduced, but he merely says that John was condemned by "the 
king of the Romans," not intimating at all who that king was, but 
calling attention to the fact that John himself did not name his 
persecutor. All other testimonies on the subject are later than 
these, and consequently of little or no value. If Eusebius was de- 
pendent on Iremeus for his information, it is not likely that later 
writers drew from any other source. But that the voice of antiq- 
uity was not altogether uniform on this subject may be inferred 
from the fact that an ancient fragment of a Latin document, prob- 
ably as old as Iremeus' writings, mentions Paul as following the 
order of his predecessor John in writing to seven churches. The 
value of this ancient fragment is its evidence of a current notion 
that John's Apocalypse was written before the decease of Paul. 
Epiphanius dates John's banishment in the reign of Claudius Caesar, 
and the superscription to the Syriac version of the Apocalypse 

' Adversus Haereses, v, 30. 

2 See Eccles. History, book iii, 18 and v, 8. 'Ibid., book iii, 23. 

* See especially Alford's Prolegomena to the Revelation. 


places it in tlie reign of Nero/ No one would lay great stress ujDon 
any of these later statements, but putting them all together, and 
letting the naked facts stand apart, shorn of all the artful colour- 
ings of partisan writers, we find the external evidence of John's 
writing the Apocalypse at the close of Domitian's reign resting on 
the sole testimony of Irenoeus, who wrote a hundred years after 
that date, and whose words admit of two different meanings. 

One clear and explicit testimony, when not opposed by other 
evidence, would be allowed by all fair critics to control the argu- 
ment ; but not so when many other considerations tend to weaken 
it. It would seem much easier to account for the confusion of tra- 
dition on the date of John's banishment than to explain away the 
definite references of the Apocalypse itself to the temple, the court, 
and the city as still standing when the book was written. All tra- 
dition substantially agrees, that John's last years of labour were 
spent among the churches of Western Asia, and it is very jDossible 
that be was banished to the isle of Patmos during the reign of 
Domitian. That banishment may have occurred long after John 
had gone to the same island for another reason, and later writers, 
misapprehending the apostle's words, might have easily confounded 
the two events. 

John's own testimony is that he "was in the island which is 
called Patmos on account of the word of God {dia rbv John's own 
Xoyov rov -Senv) and the testimony of Jesus" (Rev. i, 9). testimony. 
Alford says, though he does not adopt this meaning, that " in St. 
Paul's usage, 6td would here signify /or the sake of; that is, for the 
purpose of receiving ; so that the apostle would have gone to Pat- 
mos [not as an exile, but] by special revelation in order to receive 
this Apocalypse. Again, keeping to this meaning of did, these 
words may mean that he visited Patmos in pursuance of, for the 
purposes of, his ordinary apostolic employment, which might well 
be designated by these substantives.'"" This proper and all-suffi- 

' See Stuart, Commentary on the Apocalypse, vol. i, pp. 265-269. 

" Greek Testament, in loco. See also De Wette, in loco. Alford's " three objec- 
tions" appear to us without force; for (1) the mention of tribulation fxn^ patience in 
this verse by no means requires us to understand that he was then suffering from ban- 
ishment. (2) The parallels (chap, vi, 9 ; xx, 4) which he cites to determine the use 
of 6id are offset by its use in ii, 3 ; iv, 11 ; xii, 11 ; xiii, 14 ; xviii, 10, 15, in all which 
places, as also in vi, 9 and xx, 4, it is to be understood as setting forth the growd or 
reason of what is stated. This meaning holds alike, whether we believe that John 
went to Patmos freely or as an exile, on account of the word of God. Comp. Winer, 
N. T. Grammar, § 49, on did. (3) The traditional banishment of John to Patmos may 
have occurred, as we have shown above, long after he had first gone there on account 
of the testimony of Jesus. 



cient explanation of his words allows us to suppose that John re- 
ceived the Revelation in Patmos, whither he had gone, either by- 
some special divine call, or in pursuance of his apostolic labours. 
The tradition, therefore, of his exile under Domitian may be true, 
and at the same time not affect the question of the date of the 

Turning now to inquire what internal evidence may be found 
touchino- the historical standpoint of the writer, observe : 

IntGrnal gvI* 

dence of date. (1) That no critic of any note has ever claimed that the 
Six points. later date is requii-ed by any internal evidence. (2) On 
the contrary, if John the apostle is the author, the comparatively 
rouo-h Hebraic style ot; the language unquestionably argues for it 
an earlier date than his Gospel or Epistles. For, special pleading 
aside, it must on all rational grounds be conceded, that a Hebrew, 
in the supposed condition of John, would, after years of intercourse 
and labour in the churches of Asia, acquire by degrees a purer 
Greek style. (3) The address " to the seven churches which are in 
Asia" (i, 4, 11), implies that, at this time, there were only seven 
churches in that Asia where Paul was once forbidden by the Spirit 
to speak the word (Asts xvi, 6, 7). Macdonald says, "An earth- 
quake, in the ninth year of Nero's reign, overwhelmed both Lao- 
dicea and Colossre (Pliny, Hist. Nat., v, 41), and the church at the 
latter place does not appear to have been restored. As the two 
places were in close proximity, what remained of the church at 
Colossaj probably became identified with the one at Laodicea. 
The churches at Tralles and Magnesia could not have been estab- 
lished until a considerable time after the Apocalypse was written. 
Those Avho contend for the later date, when there must have been 
a greater number of churches than seven in the region designated 
by the apostle, fail to give any sufficient reason for his mentioning 
no more. That they mystically or symbolically represent others is 
surely not such a reason.'"" (4) The prominence in which persecu- 
tion from the Jews is set forth in the Epistles to the seven churches 
also argues an early date. After the fall of Jerusalem, Christian 
persecution and troubles came almost altogether from pagan sources, 
and Jewish opposition and Judaizing heretics became of little note. 

' Any one who will compare the rapidity of raul's movements on Jiis missionary 
journeys, and note how he addressed epistles to some of his churches (e. g., Tlicssa- 
lonians) a few months after his first visitation, will have no diOiculty in understand- 
ing how John could have visited all the seven cliurches of Asia, and also have gone 
thence to Patmos and received the Revolaiion, within a year after departing from 
Jerusalem. But John, like Paul, probably wrote to churches lie had not visited. 

2 The Life and Writings of John, p. 155. 


(5) A most weighty argument for the early date appears in the 
mention of the temple, court, and city in chajoter xi, 1-3. These 
references and the further designation, in verse 8, of that city 
" -vhich spiritually is called Sodom and Egypt, wliere also their 
Lord was crucified," obviously imply that the Jewish temple, court, 
and city were yet standing. To plead that these familiar appella- 
tives are not real, but only mystical allusions, is to assume the very 
point in question. The most simple reference should stand unless 
convincing reasons to the contrary be shown. When the writer 
proceeds to characterize the city by a proper symbolical name, he 
calls it Sodom and Egypt, and is careful to tell us that it is so called 
spiritually (TrvevixariKOjg), but, as if to prevent any possibility of 
misunderstanding his reference, he adds that it is the place where 
the Lord was crucified. 

(6) Finally, what should especially impress every reader is the 
emphatic statement, placed in the very title of the book, and re- 
peated in one form and another again and again, that this is a 
revelation of " things which must shortly {ev rdx^c) come to pass," 
and the time of which is near at hand (eyyt'f, Rev. i, 1,3; xxii, 6, 7, 
10, 12, 20). If the seer, writing a few years before the terrible 
catastrophe, had the destruction of Jerusalem and its attendant 
woes before him, all these expressions have a force and definiteness 
which every interpreter must recognize.' But if the things contem- 

' The trend of modern criticism is unmistaliably toward the adoption of the early 
date of the Apocalypse, and yet the best scholars differ. Elliott, Hengstenberg, 
Lange, Alford, and Whedon contend strongly that the testimony of Irenaeus and the 
ancient tradition ought to control the question ; while, on the other hand, Lucke, 
Neander, De Wette, Ewald, Bleek, Auberlen, Hilgenfeld, Diisterdieck, Stuart, Macdon- 
ald, Davidson, J. B. Lightfoot, Glasgow, Farrar, Westcott, Cowles, and Schaff main- 
tain that the book, according to its own internal evidence, must have been written be- 
fore the destruction of Jerusalem. The last-named scholar, in the new edition of his 
Church History (vol. i, pp. 8M-8Z1), revokes his acceptance of the Domitian date 
which he affirmed thirty years ago, and now maintains that internal evidence for an 
earlier date outweighs the external tradition. Writers on both sides of this question 
have probably been too much influenced by some theory of the seven kings in chap, 
xvii, 10 (see below, p. 481), and have placed the composition much later than valid 
evidence warrants. Glasgow (The Apoc. Trans, and Expounded, pp. 9-38) adduces 
proof not easy to be set aside that the Revelation was written before any of the 
Epistles, probably somewhere between A. D. 50 and 54. Is it not supposable that one 
reason why Paul was forbidden to preach the word in Western Asia (Acts xvi, 6) was 
that John was either already there, or about to enter? The prevalent opinion that 
the First Epistle of John was written after the fall of Jerusalem rests on no certain 
•evidence. To assume, from the writer's use of the term " little children," that he was 
very far advanced in years, is futile. John was probably no older than Paul, but 
some time before the fall of Jerusalem the latter was wont to speak of himself as 
"Paul the aged." Philem. 9. 


plated were in the distant future, these simple words of time must 

be subjected to the most violent and unnatural treatment in order to 

make the statements of the writer compatible with the exposition. 

A consideration of these evidences, external and internal, of the 

^ , date of the Apocalypse, shows what delicacy and dis- 
Great delicacy ... ... . . •' 

and discrimina- crimmation are requisite in an interpreter in order to 

tioQ essential, determine the historical standpoint of such a prophet- 
ical book. As far as possible, all systems of jDrophetical interpreta- 
tion should be held in abeyance until that question is determined ; 
but it may become necessary, in view of the conflicting evidences 
of the date and the difficulties of the book itself, to withhold all 
judgment as to the historical standpoint of the writer until we have 
tried the different methods of interpretation, and have thus had 
opportunity to judge which exposition affords the best solution of 
the difficulties. 

The controversy over the date of Daniel's prophecies springs 
mainly from the miraculous narratives recorded in the first part of 
the book, and from the rationalistic assumption that neither mir- 
acles nor such detailed prediction of future events as the visions 
^ ^. , and dreams involve are consistent with scientific histor- 

Questions of ... , 

historical criti- ical criticism. The question is one that belongs more 
cism involved, pj-^^p^jj-jy ^q ^]^q department of Biblical Introduction; 

but it is evident that the determining of the date of the prophecies 
is essential to their interpretation, and if it be admitted that they 
were written after the events which they assume to foretell, the 
credibility of the book is necessarily destroyed, and any scientific 
exposition of it must thence proceed as if dealing Avith a forgery or 
a pious fraud. The same may be said of that criticism which places 
the composition of the Pentateuch long after the days of Moses. 
Such a hypothesis forces the interpreter who adopts it to give an 
unnatural meaning to all those words and acts which are attributed 
to Moses, and which assume the historical standpoint of the great 
Lawgiver of Israel. The various rationalistic theories of interpreta- 
tion, which ignore or deny the supernatural, and proceed on the 
assumption that any of the sacred writers feign a historical stand- 
point which they did not really occupy, are continually changing, 
and lead only to confusion. 

This, then, is to be held as a canon of interpretation, that aU due 
regard must be had to the person and circumstances of the author, 
the time and j^h^ce of his writing, and the occasion and reasons 
which led him to write. Nor must we omit similar inquiry into the 
character, conditions, and history of those for whom the book was 
written, and of those also of whom the book makes mention. 




Those portions of tlie Ploly Scriptures which are written in figura- 
tive language call for special care in their interpretation. Tropes many 
When a word is employed in another than its primary and various, 
meaning, or applied to some object different from that to which it 
is appropriated in common usage, it is called a trope.' The neces- 
sities and pui'poses of human speech requii-e the frequent use of 
words in such a tropical sense. We have already seen, under the 
head of the ksus loquendl of words, how many terms come to have 
a variety of meanings. Some words lose their primary signification 
altogether, and are employed only in a secondary or acquired sense. 
Most words in every language have been used or are capable of be- 
ing used in this way. And very many words have so long and so 
constantly maintained a figurative sense that their primary meaning 
has become obsolete and forgotten. How few remember that the 
word Imo denotes that tvhich is laid / or that the common expres- 
sions riffht and wrong, which have almost exclusively a moral im- 
port, originally signified straight and crooked. Other words are so 
commonly used in a twofold sense that we immediately note when 
they are employed literally and when figuratively. When James, 
Cephas, and John are called pillars of the Church (Gal. ii, 9), we see 
at once that the word pillars is a metaphor. And when the Church 
itself is said to be "built upon the foundation of the apostles and 
prophets " (Eph. ii, 20), we know that a figure, the image of a house 
or temple, is meant to be depicted before the mind. 

The origin of figures of speech has been generally attributed 
to the poverty of languages in their earliest stages, q^ j^ ^^^ ^^_ 
The scarcity of words required the use of one and the cessityofiigur- 

T • • . f • 1.1.-KT ^ ^1 ative lauffuage. 

same word m a variety of meanings. " JN o language, 
says Blair, " is so copious as to have a separate word for every sep- 
arate idea. Men naturally sought to abridge this labour of multi- 
plying words ad infinitum ; and, in order to lay less burden on their 
memories, made one word, which they had already appropriated to 
a certain idea or object, stand also for some other idea or object 

' From the Greek rpoTrof, a turn or change of language ; that is, a word turned 
from its primary usage to another meaning. 


between which and the primary one they found or fancied some 
relation." ' 

But it is not solely in the scarcity of words that we are to find 
the origin of figurative language. The natural operations of the 
human mind prompt men to trace analogies and make comparisons. 
Pleasing emotions are excited and the imagination is gratified by 
the use of metaphors and similes. Were we to sui)pose a language 
suificiently copious in words to express all possible conceptions, the 
human mind would still requii-e us to compare and contrast our 
concepts, and such a procedure would soon necessitate a variety of 
figures of speech. So much of our knowledge is acquired through the 
senses, that all our abstract ideas and our spiritual language have a 
material basis. " It is not too much to say," observes Max Miiller, 
"that the whole dictionary of ancient religion is made up of meta- 
phors. With us these metaphors are all forgotten. We speak of 
spirit without thinking of breath, of heaven without thinking of 
sky, of pardon without thinking of a release, of revelation without 
thinking of a veil. But in ancient language every one of these 
words, nay, every word that does not refer to sensuous objects, is 
still in a chrysalis stage, half material and half spiritual, and I'ising 
and falling in its character according to the capacities of speakers 
and hearers." * 

And more than this. May we not safely affirm that the analogies 
Figures of traceable between the natural and spiritual worlds are 
fivZe hTrmS P^^'*^ ^^ ^ divine harmony which it is the noblest men- 
nies. tal exercise to discover and unfold? In his chapter, 

" On Teacliing by Parables," Trench has the following profound 
observations: "It is not merely that these analogies assist to make 
the truth intelligible, or, if intelligible before, present it more viv- 
idly to the mind, which is all that some will allow them. Their 
jjower lies deeper than this, in the harmony unconsciously felt by 
all men, and by deeper minds continually recognized and plainly 
perceived, between the natural and spiritual worlds, so that analo- 
gies from the first are felt to be something more than illustrations, 
happily but yet arbitrarily chosen. They are arguments, and may 
be alleged as witnesses; the world of nature being throughout a 
witness for the world of spirit, proceeding from the same hand, 
growing out of the same root, and being constituted for that very 
end. All lovers of truth readily acknowledge these mysterious 
harmonies, and the force of arguments derived from them. To 
ihem the things on earth are copies of the things in heaven. They 

' Rhetoric, Lecture xiv. On the Origin and Nature of Figurati^'C Language. 
'Science of Religion, p. 118. 


know that the earthly tabei'nacle is made after the pattern of things 
seen in the mount (Exod. xXv, 40; 1 Chron. xxviii, 11, 12); and the 
question suggested by the angel in Milton is often forced upon 
their meditations — 

' What if earth 
Be but the shadow of heaven and things therein 
Each to other like, more than on earth is thought ? ' 

For it is a great misunderstanding of the matter to think of these 
as happily, but yet arbitrarily, chosen illustrations, taken with a 
skilful selection from the great stock and storehouse of unappro- 
priated images; from whence it would have been possible that the 
same skill might have selected others as good or nearly as good. 
Rather they belong to one another, the type and the thing typified, 
by an inward necessity ; they were linked together long before by 
the law of a secret affinity. It is not a happy accident which has 
yielded so wondrous an analogy as that of husband and wife to set 
forth the mystery of Christ's relation to his elect Church. There 
is far more in it than this: the earthly relation is indeed but a low- 
er form of the heavenly, on which it rests, and of which it is the 
utterance. When Christ spoke to Nicodemus of a new birth, it 
was not merely because birth into this natural world was the most 
suitable figure that could be found for the expression of that spir- 
itual act which, without any power of our own, is accomplished 
upon us when we are brought into God's kingdom; but all the cir- 
cumstances of this natural birth had been pre-ordained to bear the 
burden of so great a mystery. The Lord is king, not borrowing 
this title from the kings of the earth, but having lent his own title 
to them— and not the name only, but so ordering, that all true rule 
and government upon earth, with its righteous laws, its stable ordi- 
nances, its jDunishment and its grace, its majesty and its terror, 
should tell of Him and of his kingdom which ruleth over all — so 
that " kingdom of God " is not in fact a figurative expression, but 
most literal: it is rather the earthly kingdoms and the earthly kings 
that are figures and shadows of the true. And as in the world of 
man and human relations, so also is it in the world of nature. The 
untended soil which yields thorns and briers as its natural harvest is 
a permanent type and enduring parable of man's heart, which has 
been submitted to the same curse, and, without a watchful spiritual 
husbandry, will as surely put forth its briers and its thorns. The 
weeds that vnll mingle during the time of growth with the corn, 
and yet are separated from it at the last, tell ever one and the same 
tale of the present admixture and future sundering of the righteous 


and the wicked. The decaying of the insignificant, unsightly seed 
in the earth, and the rising up out of that decay and death of the 
graceful stalk and the fruitful ear, contain evermore the prophecy 
of the final resurrection, even as this is itself in its kind a resurrec- 
tion — the same process at a lower stage — the same power putting 
itself forth upon meaner things. . . . And thus, besides his revela- 
tion in words, God has another and an elder, and one indeed with- 
out Avhich it is inconceivable how that other could be made, for 
from this it appropriates all its signs of communication. This en- 
tire moral and visible world from first to last, with its kings and its 
subjects, its parents and its children, its sun and its moon, its sow- 
ing and its harvest, its light and its darkness, its sleeping and its 
waking, its birth and its death, is from beginning to end a mighty 
parable, a great teaching of supersensuous truth, a help at once to 
our faith and to our understanding." ' 

The principal sources of the figurative language of the Bible are 
Poiir«'s of scrip- the physical features of the Holy Land, the habits and 
turai imaRery. customs of its ancient tribes, and the forms of Israel- 
itish worship. All these sources should, accordingly, be closely 
studied in order to the interpretation of the figurative portions of 
the Scriptures. As we traced a Divine Providence in the use of 
Hebrew, Chaldee, and Greek as the languages of God's inspired 
revelation, and as we believe that the progeny of Abraham through 
Jacob were the divinely chosen people to receive and guard the 
oracles of God, so may we also believe that the Land of Promise 
was an essential element in the process of developing and perfect- 
ing the rhetorical form of the sacred records. " It is neither fiction 
nor extravagance," says Thomson, " to call this land a microcosm — 
a little world in itself, embracing every thing which in the thought 
of the Creator would be needed in developing this language of the 
kingdom of heaven. Nor is it easy to see how the end sought 
could have been reached at all without just such a land, furnislied 
and fitted up, as this was, by the overruling providence of God. 
All were needed — mountain and valley, hill and plain, lake and 
river, sea and sky, summer and winter, seedtime and harvest, trees, 
shrubs, and flowers, beasts and birds, men and women, tribes and 
nation*., governments and religions false and true, and other things 
innumerable; none of which could be spare<l. Tliink, if you can, 
of a Bible with all these left out, or others essentially different sub- 
stituted in their place — a Bible without patriarch or pilgrimage, 
with no bondage in Egypt, or deliverance therefrom, no Red Sea, 
no Sinai with its miracles, no wilderness of wandering with all the 

1 Notes on the Parables, pp. 18-21. 


included scenes and associated incidents ; without a Jordan with a 
Canaan over against it, or a Dead Sea with Sodom beneath it; no 
Moriah with its temple, no Zion with palaces, nor Hinnom below 
with the fire and the worm that never die. Whence could have 
come our divine songs and psalms, if the sacred poets had lived in 
a land without mountain or valley, where were no plains covered 
over with corn, no fields clothed with green, no hills planted with 
the olive, the fig, and the vine? All are needed, and all do good 
service, from the oaks of Bashan and the cedars of Lebanon to the 
liyssop that springeth out of the wall. The tiny mustard-seed has 
its moral, and lilies their lessons. Thorns and thistles utter ad- 
monitions, and revive sad memories. The sheep and the fold, the 
shepherd and his dog, the ass and his owner, the ox and his goad, 
the camel and his burden, the horse with neck clothed with thun- 
der; lions that roar, wolves that raven, foxes that destroy, harts 
panting for water brooks, and roes feeding among lilies, doves in 
their windows, sparrows on the housetop, storks in the heavens, 
eagles hasting to their pi"ey; things great and small; the busy bee 
improving each shining hour, and the careful ant laying up store in 
harvest — nothing too large to serve, too small to aid. These are 
merely random specimens out of a world of rich materials ; but we 
must not forget that they are all found in this land where the dia- 
lect of God's spiritual kingdom was to be taught and spoken."' 

It is scarcely necessary, and, indeed, quite impracticable, to lay 
down specific rules for determining when language is g j^ 
used figuratively and when literally. It is an old and unnecessary and 
oft-repeated hermeneutical principle that words should ^'^'p^^^^^^^^^^- 
be understood in their literal sense unless such literal interpreta- 
tion involves a manifest contradiction or absurdity. It should be 
observed, however, that this principle, when reduced to practice, 
becomes simply an appeal to every man's rational judgment. And 
what to one seems very absurd and improbable may be to another 
altogether simple and self -consistent. Some expositors have claimed 
to see necessity for departing from the literal sense where others 
saw none, and it seems impossible to establish any fixed rule that 
will govern in all cases. Reference must be had to the general 
character and style of the particular book, to the i:)lan and purj^ose 
of the author, and to the context and scope of the particular passage 
in question. Especially should strict regard be had to the usage 

' The Ph vsical Basis of our Spiritual Language ; by W. M. Thomson, in the 
Bibliotheca Sacra for January, 18*72. Compare the same author's articles on The 
Natural Basis of our Spiritual Language in the same periodical for Jan., 1873; Jan., 
1874; Jan., 187.5; July, 1876; and Jan., 1877. 


of the sacred -writers, as determined by a thorough collation and' 
comparison of all parallel passages. The same general principles, 
by which we ascertain the grammatico-historical sense, apply also 
to the interpretation of figurative language, and it should never be 
forgotten that the figurative portions of the Bible are as certain 
and truthful as the most prosaic chapters. Metaphors, allegories, 
parables, and symbols are divinely chosen forms of setting forth 
the oracles of God, and Ave must not suppose their meaning to be 
so vague and uncertain as to be past finding out. In the main, we 
believe the figurative parts of the Scriptures are not so difiicult to 
understand as many have imagined. By a careful and judicious 
discrimination the interpreter should aim to determine the char- 
acter and purport of each particular trope, and explain it in harmony 
with the common laws of language, and the author's context, scope, 
and plan. 

Figures of speech have been distributed into two great classes, 
, , figures of words and figures of thought. The distinc- 

Figrures of words _» _ •^ => 

and iigures of tion is an easy one in that a figure of words is one in 
thought. which the image or resemblance is confined to a single 

word, whereas a figure of thought may require for its expression a 
great many words and sentences. Metaphor and metonomy are fig- 
ures of words, in which the comparison is reduced to a single expres- 
sion, as when, characterizing Herod, Jesus said, " Go and say to that 
/ba;" (Luke xiii, 32). In Psalm xviii, 2, w^e find seven figures of 
words crowded into a single verse: "Jehovah, ray rock ('y^P), and 
my fortress, and my deliverer; my God, my rock ('11^*) — I will seek 
refuge in him; — my shield and horn of my salvation, my height." 
Figures of thought, on the other hand, are seen in similes, alle- 
gories, and parables, where no single word will suflSce to convey 
the idea intended, but an entire passage or section must be taken 
together. But this classification of figures will be of little value in 
the study of the figurative language of the Scriptures. 

All figures of speech are founded upon some Resemblance or rela- 
tion which different objects bear to one another, and it often hap- 
pens, in rapid and brilliant style, that a cause is put for its effect, or 
an effect for its cause ; or the name of a subject is used when only 
some adjunct or associated circumstance is intended. This figure 
Metonymy of of speech is Called Metonymy, from the Greek iJ.eTd, 
cause and effect, clenoting chanf/e, and ovofia, a name. Such change and 
substitution of one name for another give language a force and 
impressiveness not otherwise attainable. Thus, Job is represented 
as saying, "My arrow is incurable" (Job xxxiv, 6) ; where bj'^ arrow 
is evidently meant a wound caused by an arrow, and allusion is 


made to chapter vi, 4, where the bitter afflictions of Job are repre- 
sented as caused by the arrows of the Almighty. So again in Luke 
xvi, 29 and xxiv, 27, Moses and the prophets are used for the writ- 
ings of which they were the authors. The name of a patriarch is 
sometimes used when his posterity is intended (Gen. ix, 27, Amos 
vii, 9). In Gen. xlv, 21; Num. iii, 16; Deut. xvii, 6, the word mouth 
is used for saying or commandment which issues from one's mouth. 
"According to the mouth {order or command) of Pharaoh." "Ac- 
cording to the mouth (word) of Jehovah." "At the mouth (word, 
testimony) of two witnesses or three witnesses shall the dying one 
(nrsn, the one appointed to die, or worthy of death,) be put to 
death." The words lip and tongue are used in a similar Avay in 
Prov. xii, 19, and frequently. "The lip of truth shall be estab- 
lished forever; but only for a moment [Heb. until I shall wink] 
the tongue of falsehood." Comp. Prov. xvii, 7; xxv, 15. In Eze- 
kiel xxiii, 29, "They shall take away all thy labour, and leave thee 
naked," the word labour is used instead of earnings or results of 
labour. All such cases of metonymy — and examples might be 
multij^lied indefinitely — are commonly classified under the head of 
Metonymy of cause and effect. To this same class belong also such 
passages as Exod. vii, 19, where, instead of vessels, the names of 
the materials of which they were made are used : " Stretch out thy 
hand over the waters of Egypt , . . and there shall be blood in all 
the land of Egypt, both in Avood and in stone;" that is, in wooden 
vessels and stone reservoirs. 

Another use of this figure occurs where some adjunct, associated 
idea, or circumstance is put for the main subject, and vice 
versa. Thus, in Lev. xix, 32, n3''E^, gray hair, hoariness, subject and ad- 
is used for a person of advanced age : " Thou shalt rise •'"°'^*^' 
up before the hoary head." Comp. Gen. xlii, 38: "Ye will bring 
down my gray hairs in sorrow to the grave." When Moses com- 
mands the elders of Israel to take a lamb according to their families 
and "kill the passoyer" (Exod. xii, 21), he evidently uses the word 
passover for the paschal lamb. In Hosea i, 2, it is written : " The 
land has grievously committed whoredom." Here the word land is 
used by metonymy for the Israelitish people dwelling in the land. 
So also, in Matt, iii, 5, Jerusalem and Judea are put for the people 
that inhabited those places : " Then went out unto him Jerusalem 
and all Judea and all the region round about the Jordan." The 
metonymy of the subject for its adjunct is also seen in passages 
where the container is put for the thing contained, as, " Thou pre- 
parest a table before me in the presence of my enemies" (Psa, 
xxiii, 5). "Blessed shall be thy basket, and thy kneading trough" 


(Deut. xxviii, 5). " Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord and the 
cup of demons, ye cannot partake of the table of the Lord and of the 
table of demons " (1 Cor. x, 21). Here table, basket, kneading -troiujh, 
and cup are used for that which they contained, or for which they 
were used. The following examples illustrate how the abstract is 
used for the concrete: "He shall justify the circumcision by faith, 
and the uncircuracision through faith" (Rom. iii, 30). Here the 
word circumcision designates the Jews, and uncircumcision the 
Gentiles. In Rom. xi, 7, the word election is used for the aggre- 
gate of those who composed the " remnant according to the elec- 
tion of grace " (verse 5), the elect portion of Israel. And Paul tells 
the Ephesians (v, 8) with great force of language : " Ye were once 
<larkness, but now lig"r}t in the Lord." 

There is another use of this figure which may be called metonymy 
. of the sign and the thing signified. Thus Isa. xxii, 22: 

Metonymy of » , „ , •■ /• t-w • i i • 

sign and thing " I Will put the key of the house of David upon his 
signined. shoulder, and he shall open, and no one shutting, and 

he shall shut, and no one opening." Here key is used as the sign 
of control over the house, of power to open or close the doors when- 
over one pleases; and the putting the key upon the shoulder denotes 
that the power, symbolized by the key, will be a heavy burden on 
him who exercises it. Compare Matt, xvi, 19. So again diadem 
and croicn are used in Ezek. xxi, 26, for regal dignity and power, 
and sceptre in Gen. xlix, 10, and Zech, x, 11, for kingly dominion. 
In Isaiah's glowing picture of the Messianic era (ii, 4) he describes 
the utter cessation of national strife and warfare by the significant 
Avords, " They shall beat their swords into ploughshares, and their 
spears into pruninghooks." In Ezek. vii, 27, we have an example 
of the use of the thing signified for the sign: "The prince shall be 
clothed with desolation;" that is, arrayed in the garments or signs 
of desolation. 

Another kind of trope, quite similar in character to metonymy, is 
that by which the whole is put for a part, or a part for 

fivnGcdocliG. " X 1 ' 1 

the whole; a genus for a species, or a species for a genus; 
the singular for tlie plural, and the plural for the singular. This 
is called Synecdoche, from the Greek avv, tcith, and, to re- 
■cci'ye/'rom, which conveys the general idea of receiving and associating 
one tiling along with another. Thus " all the world " is used in Luke 
ii, 1, for tlie Roman Empire; and in Matt, xii, 40, three days and 
three nights are used for only part of that time. The soul is often 
named wlien the whole man or person is intended; as, " We Avere 
in all in the ship two hundred threescore and sixteen souls (Acts 
XX vii, 37), Tlie singular of dai/ is used by synecdoche for days or 


period in such passages as Eccles. xii, 3: "In the day when the 
keepers of the house tremble." The singular of stork, turtle, crane, 
and swallow is used in Jer. viii, 7, as the representative of the whole 
class to which each belongs. Jephthah is said to have been " buried 
in the cities of Gilead " (Judg. xii, V), where, of course, only one of 
those cities is intended. In Psa. xlvi, 9, the Lord is represented as 
"causing wars to cease unto the extremity of the land; bow he will 
shiver, and cut in pieces spear; war chariots he will burn in the 
tire." Here, by specifying bow, spear, and chariots, the Psalmist 
doubtless designed to represent Jehovah's triumph as an utter de- 
struction of all implements of war. In Deut. xxxii, 41, the flashing 
gleam of the sword is put for its edge: "If I sharpen the lightning 
of my sword, and my hand lay hold on judgr ant." 

We have called attention, in the earlier part of this work, to the 
tendency of the Hebrew mind to form and express 

. . - • ,• 1 Personification. 

Vivid conceptions of the external world.' Inanimate 
objects were spoken of as if instinct with life. And this tendency 
is noticeable in all languages, and occasions the figure of speech 
called Personification.^ It is so common a feature of language that 
it often occurs in the most ordinary conversation; but it is more 
especially suited to the language of imagination and passion, and 
appears most frequently in the poetical parts of Scripture. The 
statement in Kum. xvi, 32, that "the earth opened her mouth and 
swallowed " Korah and his associates, is an instance of personifica- 
tion, the like of which often occurs in prose narration. More strik- 
ing is the language of Matt, vi, 34: "Be not therefore anxious for 
the morrow, for the morrow will be anxious for itself." Here the 
morrow itself is pictured before us as a living person, pressed by 
care and anxiety. But the more forcible instances of i)ersonifica- 
tion are found in such passages as Psa. cxiv, 3, 4: "The sea saw 
and fled; the Jordan was turned backward. The mountains leaped 
like rams; hills like the sons of the flock." Or, again, in Hab. 
iii, 10: "Mountains saw thee, they writhe; a flood of waters passed 
over; the deep gave his voice; on high his hands he lifted." Here 
mountains, hills, rivers, and sea, are introduced as things of life. 
They are assumed to have self-conscious powers of thought, feel- 
ing, and locomotion, and yet it is all the emotional language of im- 
agination and poetic fervour. 

' See above, i)p. 8fi, 102. 

' The more technical name is Prosopopoeia, from the Greek TTpoauirov, face, or per- 
son, and TToieu, to make ; and, accordingly, means to give personal form or character 
to an ohject. Prosnpopceia is held by some to be a term of more extensive applica- 
tion tlian personification. 


Apostrophe is a figure closely allied to personification. The 
name is derived from the Greek and, from, and arpe^w, 
to turn, and denotes especially the turning of a speaker 
away from his immediate hearers, and addressing an absent and 
imaginary person or thing. When the address is to an inanimate 
object, the figures of personification and apostrophe combine in one 
and the same passage. So, in connexion with the passage above 
cited from Psa. cxiv. After personifying the sea, the Jordan, and 
the mountains, the psalmist suddenly turns in direct address to 
them, and says: *' What is the matter with thee, O thou sea, that 
thou fleest ? Thou Jordan, that thou art turning backward ? Ye 
mountains, that ye leap like rams; ye hills, like the sons of the 
flock?" The following apostrophe is peculiarly impressive by the 
force of its imagery. " O, Sword of Jehovah ! How long Avilt 
thou not be quiet? Gather thyself to thy sheath; be at rest and 
be dumb" (Jer. xlvii, 6). But apostrophe proper is an address to 
some absent person either living or dead; as when David laments 
for the dead Absalom (2 Sam. xviii, 33), and, as if the departed 
soul were present to hear, exclaims: "My son- Absalom! my son, 
my son Absalom ! Would that I had died in thy stead, O Absa- 
lom, my son, my son ! " The apostrophe to the fallen king of 
Babylon, in Isa. xiv, 9-20, is one of the boldest and sublimest ex- 
amples of the kind in any language. Similar instances of bold and 
impassioned address abound in the Hebrew prophets, and, as we 
have seen, the oriental mind was notably given to express thoughts 
and feelings in this emotional style. 

Interrogatory forms of expression are often the strongest possible 

way of enunciating important truths. As Avhen it is 
Interrogation. .'' • tt i • • -, ■, » i 

written ni Heb. i, 14, concerning the angels: "Are they 

not all ministering si)irits sent forth into service for the sake of 
those who are to inherit salvation?" Here the doctrine of the 
ministry of angels in such a noble service is by implication as- 
sumed as an undisputed belief. The interrogatories in Rom. viii, 
33-35, afford a most impressive style of setting forth the triumph 
of believers in the blessed provisions of redemption: "Who shall 
bring charge against God's elect ones? Shall God who justifies? 
Who is he that is condemning? Is it Christ Jesus that died, but, 
rather, that was raised from the dead, who is at the right hand of 
God, who also intercedes for us ? AVho shall separate us from the 
love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or anguish, or persecution, or 
famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Even as it is written, 
For thy sake we are killed all the day; we Avere accounted as sheep 
of slaugliter. But in all tiiese things we more than conquer through 


him that loved us." ' Very frequent and conspicuous also are the 
interrogatory forms of speech in the Book of Job. " Knowest thou 
this of old, from the placing of Adam on the earth, that the tri- 
umjjh of the wicked is short, and the joy of the profane for a 
moment ?"(xx, 4). "The secret of Eloah canst thou find? Or 
canst thou find out Shaddai to perfection?" (xi, 7). Jehovah's an- 
swer out of the whirlwind (chaps, xxxviii-xli) is very largely in 
this form. 

Hyperbole is a rhetorical figure which consists in exaggeration, 
or mag-nifvinsr an obiect beyond reality. It has its nat- 

... . . Hyperbole. 

ural origin in the tendency of youthful and imaginative 
minds to portray facts in the liveliest colours. An ardent imagina- 
tion would very naturally describe the appearance of the many 
camps of the Midianites and Amalekites as in Judg. vii, 12: "Lying 
in the valley like grasslioppers for multitude; and as to their 
camels, no number, like the sand which is upon the shore of the 
sea for multitude." So the emotion of David prompts him to speak 
of Saul and Jonathan as swifter than eagles and stronger than 
lions (2 Sam. i, 23). Other scriptural examples of this figure are 
the following: " All night I make my bed to swim; with my tears 
I dissolve my couch " (Psa. vi, 6). " Would that my head were 
waters and my eyes a fountain of tears; and I would weep day and 
night the slain of the daughter of my people" (Jer. ix, 1). "There 
are also many other thing* which Jesus did, which things, if writ- 
ten every one, I suppose that the world itself would not contain 
the books that should be written" (John xxi, 25). Such exagger- 
ated expressions, when not overdone, or occurring too frequently, 
strike the attention and make an agreeable impression on the mind. 
Another peculiar form of speech, deserving a passing notice 
here, is irony, by which a speaker or writer says the 
very opposite of what he intends. Elijah's language to 
the Baal worshippers (1 Kings xviii, 27) is an example of most 
effective irony. Another example is Job xii, 1 : " True it is that 
ye are the people, and with you wisdom will die ! " In 1 Cor. 
iv, 8, Paul indulges in the following ironical vein: "Already ye 
are filled; already ye are become rich; without us ye have reigned; 
and I would indeed that ye did reign, that we also might reign ^\•ith 
you." On this passage Meyer remarks: "The discourse, already in 

' The interrogative construction of this passage given above is maintained by many 
of the best interpreters and critics, ancient and modern (as Augustine, Ambrosiaster, 
Koppe, Reiche, Kollner, Olshausen, De Wette, Griesbach, Lachmann, Alford, Web- 
ster, and Jowett), and seems to us, on the whole, the most simple and satisfactory. 
But see other constructions advocated in Meyer and Lange. 


verse 7, roused to a lively pitch, becomes now bitterly ironical, heap- 
ing stroke on stroke, even as the proud Corinthians, with their par- 
tisan conduct, needed an admonition {yovdeoia, ver. 14) to teach them 
humility." The designation of the thirty pieces of silver, in Zcch. 
xi, 1-3, as "a glorious price," is an example of sarcasm. Words of 
derision and scorn, like those of the soldiers in Matt, xxvii, 30: 
*' Hail. KinsT of the Jews ! " and those of the chief priests and sci-ibes 
in ]\Iark xv, 32: "Let the Christ, the King of Israel, now come 
down from the cross, that we may see and believe," are not proper 
examples of irony, but of malignant mockery. 

■ »•» ■ 




When a formal comparison is made between two different objects, 
Simile defined SO as to impress t'he mind with some resemblance or 
and illustrated, likeness, the figure is called a simile. A beautiful 
example is found in Isa. Iv, 10, 11: "For as the rain and the snow 
come down from the heavens, and thither do not return, but water 
the land, and cause it to bear and to sprout, and it gives seed to 
the sower and bread to the eater: so shall my word be which goes 
forth out of my mouth; it shall not return to me empty, but do that 
which I desired, and be successful in Avhat I sent it." The apt and 
varied allusions of this passage set forth the beneficial efficacy of 
God's word in a most ifhpressive style. "The images* chosen," ob- 
serves Delitzsch, " are rich with allusions. As snow and rain are 
the mediate cause of growth, and thus also of the enjoyment of 
what is harvested, so also by the word of God the ground and soil 
of the human heart is softened, refreshed, and made fertile and 
vegetative, and this word gives the prophet, who is like the sower, 
the seed which he scatters, and it brings with it bread that nour- 
ishes the soul; for every word that proceeds from the mouth of God 
is bread " (Deut. viii, 3).' Another illustration of the word of God 
appears in Jer. xxiii, 29: "Is not my word even as the fire, saith 
Jehovah, and as a hammer that breaks a rock in pieces ? " Here 
are portrayed the fury and force of the divine word against false 

' Biblical Commenturv on Isaiiili, in loco. 


prophets. It is a word of judgment that burns and smites the sin- 
ful offender unto utter ruin, and the intensity of its power is en- 
hanced by the double simile. 

The tendency of the Hebrew writers to crowd several similes to- 
gether is noticeable, and this may be in part accounted „ 

° ' . „, . Crowding of 

for by the nature of Hebrew parallelism. 1 hus in Isa. simUes togeth- 
i, 8 : " The daughter of Zion is left as a booth in a vine- ^^' 
yard; as a night-lodge in a field of cucumbers; as a city besieged." 
And again in verse 30: " Ye shall be as an oak withering in foliage, 
and as a garden to which there is no water." And in xxix, 8: "It 
shall be as when the hungry dreams, and lo, he is eating, and he 
awakes, and his soul is empty ; and as when the thirsty dreams, and 
lo, he is drinking, and he awakes, and lo, he is faint, and his soul is 
eagerly longing: so shall be the multitude of all the nations that 
are warring against Mount Zion." But though the figures are thus 
multiplied, they have a natural afiinity, and are not open to the 
cliarge of being mixed or confused. 

Similes are of frequent occurrence in the Scriptures, and being 
designed to illustrate an author's meaning, they involve gimiies seif-m- 
no difficulties of interpretation. When the Psalmist terpreting. 
says: "I am like a pelican of the wilderness; I have become as an 
owl of desert places; I watch and am become as a solitary s2:)arrow 
on a roof " (Psa. cii, 6), he conveys a vivid picture of his utter 
loneliness. An image of gracefulness and beauty is i^resented by 
the language of Cant, ii, 9: "My beloved is like a roe, or a young 
fawn." Compare verse 16, and chapter iv, 1-5. Ezekiel (xxxii, 2) 
compares Pharaoh to a young lion of the nations, and a dragon 
(crocodile) in the seas. It is said in Matt, xvii, 2, that when Jesus 
became transfigured "his face did shine as the sun, and his gar- 
ments became white as the light." In Matt, xxviii, 3, it is said 
of the angel who rolled the stone from the sepulchre, that "his 
appearance was as lightning, and his raiment white as snow." In 
Rom. xii, 4, the apostle illustrates the unity of the Church and the 
diversity of its individual ministers by the following comparison: 
" Even as in one body we have many members, and all the mem- 
bers have not the same work: so we, who are many, are one body 
in Christ, and severally members one of another." Compare also 
1 Cor. xii, 12. In all these and other instances the comparison is 
self-interpreting, and the main thought is intensified by the imagery. 

A fine example of simile is that at the close of the sermon on the 
mount (Matt, vii, 24-27): "Every one therefore who hears these 
words of mine, and does them, shall be likened unto a Avise man, 
who built his house upon the rock." Whether we here take the 


<)ij,oicod7ioeTai, shall he likened, as a prediction of what will take place 
in the final judgraent — I will then make him like; show as a matter 
of fact that he is like (Tholuck, Meyer), or as simply the predi- 
cate of formal comparison (the future tense merely contemplating 
future cases as they shall arise), the similitude is in either case the 
same. We have on the one hand the figure of a house based upon 
the immovable rock, which neither storm nor flood can shake; on 
the other of a house based upon the shifting sand, and unable to 
resist the violence of winds and floods. The similitude, thus formal- 
ly developed, becomes, in fact, a parable, and the mention of rains, 
floods, and winds implies that the house is to be tested at roof, 
foundation, and sides — top, bottom, and middle. But we should 
not, like the mystics, seek to find some special and distinct form of 
temptation in these three words. The grand similitude sets forth 
impressively the certain future of those who hear and obey the 
words of Jesus, and also of those who hear and refuse to obey. 
Compare with this similitude the allegory in Ezek. xiii, 11-15. 
Blair traces the pleasure we take in comparisons of this kind to 

^ three different sources. " First, from the pleasure 
Pleasures af- , c • t i 

forded by sim- which nature has annexed to that act of the mind by 

^^^' which we compare two objects together, trace resem- 

l)lances among those that are different, and differences among those 
that resemble each other; a pleasure, the final cause of which is to 
prompt us to remark and observe, and thereby to make us advance 
in useful knowledge. This operation of the mind is naturally and 
universally agreeable, as appears from the delight which even chil- 
dren have in comparing things together, as soon as they are capa- 
ble of attending to the objects that surround them. Secondly, the 
pleasure of comparison arises from the illustration which the simile 
employed gives to the principal object; from the clearer view of it 
which it presents, or the stronger impression of it which it stamps 
upon the mind. And, thirdly, it arises from the introduction of a 
new, and commonly a splendid object, associated to the principal 
one of which Ave treat; and from the agreeable picture which that 
object presents to the fancy; new scenes being thereby brought 
into view, which, without the assistance of this figure, we could not 
have enjoyed." ' 

There is, common to all languages, a class of illustrations, which 
miirht be appropriately called assumed comparisons. 

Assumed com- -^ i i r j ^ _ _ _ i 

parisi.ns or ii- They are not, strictly speaking, either similes, or meta- 
lustrations. pj^ors, Or parables, or allegories, and yet they include 
some elements of them all. A fact or figure is introduced for 

' Lectures on Rhetoric, lecture xvil. 


tlie sake of illustration, and yet no formal words of comparison are 
used. But the reader or hearer perceives at once that a compari- 
son is assumed. Sometimes such assumed comparisons follow a 
regular simile. In 2 Tim. ii, 3, we read: "Partake thou in hard- 
shii) as a good soldier of Christ Jesus." But immediately after 
these words, and keeping the figure thus introduced in his mind, 
the apostle adds: "No one on service as a soldier entangles himself 
with the affairs of life; in order that he may please him who en- 
listed him as a soldier." Here is no figure of speech, but the plain 
statement of a fact fully recognized in military service. But fol- 
lowing the simile of verse 3, it is evidently intended as a further 
illustration, and Timothy is left to make his own application of it. 
And then follow two other illustrations, which it is also assumed 
the reader will apply for himself. "And if also any one contend 
as an athlete, he is not crowned if he did not lawfully contend. The 
labouring husbandman must first partake of the fruits." These 
are plain, literal statements, but a comparison is tacitly assumed, 
and Timothy could not fail to make the proper application. The 
true minister's close devotion to his proper work, his cordial sub- 
mission, and conformity to lawful authority and order, and his 
laborious activity, are the points especially emphasized by these 
respective illustrations. So, again, in verses 20 and 21 of the same 
chapter: "In a great house there are not only vessels golden and 
silver, but also wooden and earthen ones, and some Literal state- 
unto honovir and some unto dishonour." Here is a !?|f "f' „!!"VlS" 
simple statement of facts intended for an illustration, son. 
but not presented as a simile. It is suggested by the metaphor in 
the preceding verse, in which the Lord's own chosen, the pure who 
confess his name, are represented as the firm foundation laid by 
God, a beautifully inscribed substructure, which, however, is to be 
gradually builded upon until the edifice becomes complete.' Its 
real character and purport are as if the apostle had said: "And 
now, for illustration, consider how, in a great house," etc. What 
he says of this house is, in itself, no figure, but a literal statement 
of what was commonly found in any exterisive building; but in 
verse 21 he makes his owm application thus: "If, therefore, any 
one purify himself from these (persons like the troublesome error- 
ists, as the babblers, Hynienoeus, etc., verses 16, 17, considered as 
vessels unto dishonour), he shall be as a vessel unto honour, sancti- 
fied, useful to the Master, unto every good work prepared." 

A similar example of extended illustration appears in Matt, vii; 
15-20: "Beware of the false prophets who come to you in sheep's 
' Compare what is said on Teter, the living stone, pp. 226-229. 


clothing, but inwardly tliey are ravenous wolves." Here is a bold, 
strong metaphor, obliging us to think of the false teacher as a wolf 
covered over and concealed from outward view by the skin of a 
sheep. But the next verse introduces another figure entirely: 
"From their fruits ye will know them;" and then to make the 
figure plainer, our Lord asks: "Do they gather grapes from thorns, 
or figs from thistles ? " The question demands a negative answer, 
and is itself an emphatic way of making such answer. Thereupon 
he proceeds, using the formula of comparison : " So every good tree 
produces good fruit, and the bad tree produces bad fruit; " and 
then, dropping formal comparison, he adds: "A good tree cannot 
bring forth bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 
Every tree that does not produce good fruit is cut down and cast 
into fire. Therefore (in view of these well-known facts, adduced 
as illustrations, I repeat the statement made a moment ago, verse 
16), from their fruits ye will know them." It will be shown in a 
subsequent chapter how all true parables are essentially similes, but 
all similes are not parables. The examples of assumed comparison, 
given above, though distinguished from both simile and parable 
proper, contain essential elements of both. 


Metaphor is an implied comparison, and is of much more frequent 
„ , ^ , occurrence in all languages than simile. It differs from 

Metaphor <\e- _ . . 

fined iiiiii iiius- the latter in being a briefer and more pungent form of 
^^'^^^' ' expression, and in turning words from their literal 

meaning to a new and striking use. The passaore in IIos, xiii, 8: 
"I will devour them like a lion," is a simile or formal comparison; 
but Gen. xlix, 9: "A lion's whelp is Judah," is a metaphor. We 
may compare something to the savage strength and rapacity of a 
lion, or the swift flight of an eagle, or the brightness of the sun, or 
the beauty of a rose, and in each case we use the words in their 
literal sense. But Miicn we say, Judah is a lion, Jonathan was an 
eagle, Jehovah is a sun, my beloved one is a rose, we perceive at 
once that the words lion, eagle, etc., are not used literally, but only 
some notable quality or characteristic of these creatures is intended. 
Hence metaphor, as the name denotes (Greek, fxerafpe^K.), to caiTi/ 
over, to transfer), is that figure of speech in which the sense of one 
word is transferred to another. This process of using Avords in new 
constructions is constantly going on, and, as Ave have seen in former 
chapters, the tropical sense of many AVords becomes at length the 
only one in use. Every language is, therefore, to a great extent, 
a dictionary of faded metaphors. 


The sources from which scriptural metaphors are drawn are to 
be looked for chiefly in the natural scenery of the lands of the 
Bible, the customs and antiquities of the Orient, and the ritual 
worship of the Hebrews.' In Jer. ii, 13, we have two very expres- 
sive metaphors : "My people have committed two evils: Examples of 
they have forsaken me, a fountain of living waters, to metaphor drawn 

from nitiir'il 

hew for themselves cisterns, broken cisterns, that can scenery. 
hold no water." A fountain of living waters, especially in such a 
land as Palestine, is of inestimable worth ; far more valuable than 
any artificial well or cistern, that can at best only catch and hold 
rain water, and is liable to become broken and lose its contents. 
What insane folly for a man to forsake a living fountain to hew for 
himself an uncertain cistern! The ingratitude and apostasy of 
Israel are strikingly characterized by the first figure, and their self- 
sufficiency by t-he second. 

In Job ix, 6, a violent earthquake is represented as Jehovah 
" causing the land to move from her place, and making her columns 
tremble." The whole land affected by the eartliquake shock is 
conceived as a building, heaved out of place, and all her pillars or 
columnar supports trembling and tottering to their fall. In chapter 
xxvi, 8, the holding of the rain in the heavens is pictured as God 
"binding up the waters in his dark cloud (ny), and the cloud (py, 
cloud-covering) is not rent under them." The clouds are conceived 
as a great slieet or bag, strong enough to hold the immense weight 
of waters. In Deut. xxxii, 40, Jehovah is represented as saying : 
" For I will lift up to heaven my hand, and say, living am I for- 
ever." Here the allusion is to the ancient custom of Ancient cus- 
lifting up the hand to heaven in the act of making a toais. 
solemn oath. In verse 42 we have these further images : " I will 
make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour 
flesh." By these metaphors arrows are personified as living things, 
intoxicated with drinking the blood of Jehovah's slaughtered foes, 
and the sword, as a ravenous beast of prey, devouring their flesh. 
Many similar examples exhibit at one and the same time the Old 
Testament anthropomorphisms,^ together with personification and 

The following strong metaphors have their basis in well-known 
habits of animals : " Issachar is an ass of bone, lying jyjgtaphoricai ai- 
down between the double fold" (Gen. xlix, 14). He lusionstotiieha- 
loves rest, like a beast of burden, especially like the 
strong, bony ass, that seeks repose between the slieepfolds. "Naph- 
tali is a hind sent forth, the giver of sayings of beauty" (Gen. 
' Compare above, p. 246. * See above, p. 103. 


xlix, 21), The allusion here is specially to the elegance and beauty 
ot' the hind, bounding away gracefully in his freedom, and denotes 
in the tribe of Naphtali a taste for sayings of beauty, such as ele- 
gant songs and proverbs. As the neighbouring tribe of Zebulon 
produced ready writers (Judges v, 14), so, probably, Naphtali be- 
came noted for elegant speakers. "Benjamin is a wolf; he shall 
rend" (Gen, xlix, 27). This metaphor fitingly portrays the furious, 
warlike character of the Benjamites, from whom sprang an Ehud 
and a Saul. In Zech. vii, 11, mention is made of those who "re- 
fused to hearken, and gave a refractory shoulder," that is, acte4 
like a refractory heifer or ox that shakes the shoulder and refuses 
to accept the yoke, Comp. Neh, ix, 29 and Hos. iv, 16, In Num, 
xxiv, 21, it is said of the Kenites, " Enduring is thy dwelling-place, 
and set in the rock thy nest," The secure dwellings of this tribe iu 
the high fastnesses of the rocky hills are conceived as the nest of 
the eagle in the towering rock. Comp. Job xxxix, 27; Jer, xlix, 16; 
Obad. 4 ; Hab. ii, 9. • 

The following metaphors are based upon practices appertaining 

to the worship and ritual of the Hebrews. "I Avill 
Metaphors , ^ , , t -n i i ^ 

based on He- wash my palms m mnocency, 1 will go round about thy 

brew ritual. ^^^^^,^ q Jehovah" (Psa. xxvi, 6). Here the allusion is 
to the practice of the priests who were required to wash their hands 
before coming near the altar to minister (Exod. xxx, 20). The 
psalmist expresses his purpose to conform thoroughly to Jehovah's 
will ; he would, so to speak, offer his burnt-offeringsj even as the 
priest who goes about the altar on Avhich his sacrifice is to be 
offered ; and in doing so, he would be careful to conform to every 
requirement. In Psa, li, 7, "Purify me with hyssop, and I shall 
become clean," the allusion is to the ceremonial forms of purifying 
the leper (Lev. xiv, 6, 7) and his house (verse 51), and the person 
who had been defiled by contact with a dead body (Xum, xix, 18, 19), 
So also the well-known usages of the passover, the sacrifice of the 
lamb, the cai'eful removal of all leaven, and the use of unleavened 
bread, lie at the basis of the following metaphorical language: 
" Purge out the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye 
are unleavened; for our passover also has been sacrificed, even 
Christ ; wherefore, let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor 
with the leaven of malice and wickedness, but with the unleavened 
loaves of sincerity and truth" (1 Cor, v, 7, 8), Here the metaphors 
are continued until they make an allegory. 

Sometimes a writer or speaker, after having used a striking 
metaphor goes on to elaborate its imagery, and, by so doing, con- 
structs an allegory ; sometimes he introduces a number and variety 



of images together, or, at other times, laying all figure aside, he 
proceeds with plain and simple language. Thus, in the j-jj^^j^^^j^j ^ 
Sermon on the Mount, Jesus says : " Ye are the salt of mixed meta- 
the earth" (Matt, v, 13). It is not difficult to grasp at p^°''^- 
once the comparison here implied. " The earth, the living world 
of men, is like a piece of meat, which would putrefy but that the 
grace of the Gospel of God, like salt, arrests the decay and purifies 
and preserves it." * But the Lord proceeds, adhering closely to tlie 
imagery of salt and its power, and develops his figure into a brief 
allegory : " But if the salt have lost its savour, wherewith shall it be 
salted?" Here is a most significant query. "The apostles, and in 
their degree all Christians," says Whedon, "are the substance and 
body of that salt. They are the substance to which the saltness 
inheres. But if the living body to which this gracious saltness in- 
heres doth lose this quality, wherewith shall the quality be restored? 
The it refers to the solid salt which has lost its saltness or savour. 
What, alas! shall ever resalt that savourless salt? The Christian 
is the solid salt,.and the grace of God is his saltness; that grace is 
the very salt of the salt. This solid salt is intended to salt the 
world with; but, alas! who shall salt the salt?"^ But immediately 
after this elaborated figure, another and different metaphor is in- 
troduced, and carried forward with still greater detail. "Ye are 
the light of the world. A city set on a mountain cannot be hid ; 
nor do they light a lamp and put it under the modius, but on the 
stand, and it shines for all that are in the house. Even so let your 
light shine" (Matt, v, 14-16). Here a variety of images is pre- 
sented to the mind ; a light, a city on a mountain, a lamp, a lamp- 
stand, and a Roman modius or peck measure. But through all 
these varying images runs the main figure of a light designed to 
send its rays afar, and illumine all within its range. A metaphor 
thus extended always becomes, strictly speaking, an allegory. In 
Matt, vii, 7, we have three metaphors introduced in a single verse. 
" Ask and it shall be given you ; seek and ye shall find ; knock and 
it shall be opened unto you." First, we have the image of a sup- 
pliant, making a request before a superior; next, of one who is in 
search for some goodly pearl or treasure (comp. Matt, xiii, 45, 46) ; 
and, finally, of one who is knocking at a door for admission. The 
three figures are so well related that they produce no confusion, but 
rather serve to strengthen one another. So Paul uses with good 
effect a twofold metaphor in Eph. iii, 18, where lie j)rays "that 
Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, being roo^ec? and 
grounded in love." Here is the figure of a tree striking its roots 
' Whedon, Commentary, in loco. . ^ IljiJ. 


into the soil, and of a building based upon a deep and strong 
foundation.' But these figures are accompanied both before and 
after with a style of language of the most simple and practical 
character, and not designed to elaborate or even adhere to the 
imagery suggested by the metaphors. 

Sometimes the salient point of allusion in a metaphor may be a 
matter of doubt or uncertainty. The opening words of 

Uncertain met> /t i ^\ i i i i ^ ^ 

apuoricai aiiu- Deborah s song (Judg. v, 2) have long puzzled transla- 
sions. ^^j.g ^^^ exegetes. The English version, following sub- 

stantially the Syriac and Arabic, renders the Hebrew i'X-i!^"2 niyi?j ynpa, 
" for the avenging of Israel." The Septuagint (Alex. Codex) has, 
" for the leading of the leaders," but seems to have been governed by 
the resemblance of the word niyiB to the official name of Egyptian 
monarchs riVIS, Pharaoh. Neither of these translations has any 
certain support in HebreAV usage. The noun jns occurs in the sing- 
ular but twice (Num. vi, 5; Ezek. xliv, 20), and in both places 
means a lock of hair. The plural form of the word, TViV^^, occurs 
only here and in Deut. xxxii, 42, and in both places would seem to 
mean, most legitimately, locks of hair, or jfoxovig locks. And why 
should it be thought to mean any thing else ? So far from being 
incongruous, it best suits the imagery of the immediate context in 
Deut. xxxii, 42. Jehovah there says: "I will make my arrows 
drunk with blood (Heb. D"ntp, from blood), and my sword shall de- 
vour flesh — Avith the blood (or, from the blood) of slain and of cap- 
tives, from the head of hairy locks of the enemy " — that is, from 
the blood of the hairy heads of the enemies. And so at the be- 
ginning of Deborah's song we may understand a bold metaphor, 

' Meyer observes : " Piuil, in the vivacity of his imagination, conceives to himself 
the congregation of his readers as a plant (comp. Matt, xiii, 3), perhaps a tree (Matt, 
vii, 17), and at the same time as a building.'''' Critical Com. on EphesiariS, iu loco. 
" The perfect participles," says Braune, " denote a state in which Paul's readers are 
and continue to be, whicli is the presupposition in order that they may be al)le to 
know. . . . They mark that a jirofouudly penetrating life {tp^i^Dfiivot) and a well 
grounded, permanent character {Te-dBfieliD^iivoi) are necessary. The double figure 
strengthens the notion of the relation to love ; this latter {kv ayuTrrj) is made promi- 
nent by being placed first. In marks love as the soil in which they are rooted, and 
as the fountiation on Avhich they are grounded. This implies moreover that it is not 
their own love which is referred to, but one which conesponds with the soil afforded 
to the tree, the foundation given to the house ; and this would undoubtedly be, in ac- 
cordance with the context, the love of Christ, were not all closer definition wanting, 
even the article. Accordingly, this substantive rendered general by the absence of 
the article corresponds with the verbal idea : in loving, i. e., in (hat love, which is 
first God's in Christ, and then that of men who became Christians, who are rooted in 
him and grounded on him througli faith." Commentary on Ephesians (Lange's Bible- 
work), in loco. 


"In the loosing of locks in Israel; " for the primary meaning of the 
verb yiSi is everywhere that of letting something loose, and when 
used of locks of hair would naturally denote the loosing of the 
hair from all artificial coverings and restraint, and leaving it to 
wave wildly, as was done in the case of a Nazarite. The metaphor 
of the passage would thus be an allusion to the unrestrained growth 
of the locks of those who took upon themselves the vows of a 
Nazai'ite. And this view of the passage is corroborated by the 
next line of the parallelism, "In the free self-offering of the peo- 
ple." The people had, so to speak, by this act of consecration, 
made themselves free-will offerings. Nothing, therefore, could be 
more striking and impressive than these metaphorical allusions at 
the opening of this hymn: 

In ' the loosing of locks in Israel, 
In the free self-offering of the people, 
Praise Jehovah! 

In Psa. xlv, 1, " My heart boils up Avith a goodly word," it is 
difiicult to determine whether the allusion is to an overflowing 
fountain, or to a boiling pot. The primary idea, according to 
Gesenius, lies in the noise of water boiling or bxabbling, and as the 
word t^'nn occurs nowhere else, but its derivative, riL'^nno, denotes in 
Lev. ii, 7 ; vii, 9, a pot or vessel used both for boiling and frying, 
it is perhaps safer to say that the allusion in the metaphor of Psa. 
xlv, i, is to a boiling pot. The heart of the Psalmist was hot with a 
holy fervour, and, like the boiling oil of the vessel in which the 
meat-offering was prepared, it seethed and bubbled^ in the rapture 
of exulting ^ong. 

The exact point of the allusion in the words, "buried wiih him 
through baptism into death" (Rom. vi, 4), and "buried Buried with 
with him in baptism" (Col. ii, 12), has been disputed. 2p£„;^''''iS 
The advocates of immersion insist that there is an allu- death. 
sion to the mode in which the rite of water baptism was performed, 
and most interpreters have acknowledged that such an allusion is 
in the word. The immersion of the candidate was thought of as a 
burial in the water. But the context in both passages goes to show 
that the great thought of the apostle was that of the believer's 
death unto sin. Thus, in Romans, " Are ye ignorant that as many 

• The preposition 3, m, points out the condition of the people in which they con- 
quered and sang. Tlie song is the people's consecration hymn, and praises God for 
the prosperous and successful issue with which he has crowned their vows. Cassel's 
Commentary on Judges (Lange's Biblework), in loco. Comp. Whedon's Old Testament 
Commentary, in loco. 


of us as were baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his 
death? We were buried therefore with him through baptism into 
death. . . . We have become united with the likeness of his death 
(ver. 5). . . . Our old man was crucified with him (ver. 6). . . . We 
died Avith Christ (ver. 8). . . . Even so consider ye yourselves to 
be dead unto sin, but alive unto God in Christ Jesus" (ver. 11), 
Kow, while the word buried tcith {awddfrrui) would naturally ac- 
cord with the idea of an immersion into w^ter, the main thought 
is the deadness unto sin, attained through a union with Christ in 
the likeness of his death. The imagery does not depend on the mode 
of Christ's execution or of his burial, much less on the manner 
in which baptism was administered, but on the similitude of his 
death (t(5 d[ioi(l)jxaTi rov davdrov avrov, ver. 5) considered as an ac- 
7 complished fact. The baptism is into death, not into water; and 
whether the outward rite were performed by sprinkling, or pour- 
ing, or immersion, it would have been equally true in either case, 
that they were "buried with him through the baptism into the 
death." Or he might have said, "We were crucified with him 
through baptism into death;" and then as now it would have been 
the end accomplished, the death, not the mode of the baptism, which 
is made prominent. In the briefer form of expression in Col. ii, 12, 
it is written, simply, " having been buried with him in baptism." 
Here, however, the context shows that the leading thought is the 
same as in Rom. vi, 3-11. The burial in baptism (ev rc5 PaTrriaiiari, 
in the matter of baptism) figured " the putting off of the body of 
the flesh;" that is, the utter stripping off and casting aside the old 
carnal nature. The burial is not to be thought of as a mode of 
putting a corpse in a grave or sei)uk'lire, but as indicating that the 
body of sin is truly dead. Having thus clearly defined the real 
point of the allusion it need not be denied or disputed that the 
figure also may include, incidentally, a reference to the practice of 
immersion. But, as Eadie observes, " Whatever may be otherwise 
said in favour of immersion, it is plain that here the. burial is 
wholly ideal. Believers are buried in baptism, but even in immer- 
sion they do not go through a process having any resemblance to 
the burial and resurrection of Christ." ' To maintain from such a 
metaphorical allusion, where the process and mode of burial are not 
in point at all, that a burial into, and a resurrection from, water, 
are essential to valid baptism, would seem like an extravagance of 

' Commentary ou the Greek Text of Colossiaus, in loco. 




Passing now from the more common figures of speech, we come to 
those peculiar tropical methods of conveying ideas and 

. 11-1111 ./o More proml- 

impressmg truths, which hold a special prominence in cent scriptural 
the Holy Scriptures. These are known as fables, rid- ''''"P'^^- 
dies, enigmas, allegories, parables, proverbs, types, and symbols. 
In order to appreciate and properly interpret these special forms 
of thought, a clear understanding of the more common rhetorical 
figures treated in the previous chapters is altogether necessary. 
For the parable will be found to correspond with the simile, the 
allegory with the metaphor, and other analogies will be traceable 
in other figures. A scientific analysis and treatment of these more 
prominent tropes of Scripture will require us to distinguish and dis- 
criminate between some things which in popular speech are fre- 
qurently confounded. Even in the Scripture itself the proverb, the 
parable, and the allegory are not formally distinguished. In the 
Old Testament the word b^ is applied alike to the proverbs of 
Solomon (Prov. i, 1; x, 1; xxv, 1), the oracles of Balaam (Num. 
xxiii, 7; xxiv, 8), the addresses of Job (Job xxvii, 1; xxix, 1), the 
taunting speech against the King of Babylon (in Isa. xiv, 4, ff.), 
and other prophecies (Micah ii, 4; Hab. ii, 6). In the New Testa- 
ment the word uapa/SoA^, parable, is applied not only to what are 
admitted on all hands to be parables proper, but also to proverb 
(Luke iv, 23), and symbol (Heb. ix, 9), and type (Heb. xi, 19). 
John does not use the word naQajioXri at all, but calls the allegory 
of the good shepherd in chap, x, 6, a iraQoiiiia, which word Peter 
uses in the sense of a proverb or byword (2 Peter ii, 22). The 
word allegory occurs but once (Gal. iv, 24), and then in verbal 
form {dXXrjyoQovfxeva) to denote the allegorizing process by which 
certain Old Testament facts might be made to typify Gospel truths. 
Lowest of these special figui'es, in dignity and aim, is the fable. 
It consists essentially in this, that individuals of the characteristics 
brute creation, and of animate and inanimate nature, are ^^ ^^^ ^'^'^'®- 
introduced into the imagery as if possessed with reason and speech, 
and are represented as acting and talking contrary to the laws of 
their being. There is a conspicuous element of unreality about the 


wliulo machinery of fables, and yet the moral intended to be set 
forth is usually so manifest that no difficulty is felt in imderstand- 
ing it. 

The oldest fable of which we have any trace is that of Jotham, 
recorded in Judg, ix, 7-20. The trees are rej^rcsented 
as going forth to choose and anoint a king. They in- 
vite the olive, the fig-tree, and the \me to come and reign over 
them, but these all decline, and urge that their own natural purpose 
and products require all their care. Then the trees invite the 
bramble, which does not refuse, but, in biting irony, insists that all 
the trees shall come and take refuge under its shadow! Let the 
olive-tree, and the fig-tree, and the vine come under the protecting 
shade of the briar ! But if not, it is significantly added, " Let fire go 
forth from the bramble and devour the cedars of Lebanon." Tlie 
miserable, worthless bramble, utterly unfit to shade even the small- 
est shrub, might, nevertheless, well serve to kindle a fire that would 
quickly devour the noblest of trees. So Jotham, in giving an im- 
mediate application of his fable, predicts that the weak and worth- 
less Abimelech, whom the men of Shechem had been so fast to 
make king over them, would prove an accursed torch to burn their 
noblest leaders. All this imagery of trees Avalking and talking is 
at once seen to be purely fanciful. It has no foundation in fact, 
and yet it presents a vivid and impressive j^icture of the i)olitical 
follies of mankind in accepting the leadership of such worthless 
characters as Abimelech. 

Another fable, quite similar to that of Jotham, is found in 

2 Kings xiv, 9, where Jehoash, the King of Israel, an- 
Jehoash's fable. °. ' ' , _ ,, ' ^ . ^ ^^. ' ^ 

swei's the warlike challenge oi Amaziah, Kmg of Ju- 

dah, by the following short and pungent apologue: "The thorn- 
bush whi(;h is in Lebanon sent to the cedar which is in Lebanon, 
saying, Give tliy daughter to my son for a wife; and there passed 
over a beast of the field which was in Lebanon, and trampled down 
the thornbush." This fable embodies a most contemj)tuous re- 
sponse to Amaziah, intimating that his pride of heart and self-con- 
ceit were moving him to attempt things far beyond his proper 
sphere. The beast trampling down the thornbush intimates that a 
passing incident, which could have no effect on a cedar of Lebanon, 
might easily destroy the briar. Jehoash does not proudly boast 
that he himself will come forth, and by his military forces crush 
Amaziah; but suggests that a passing judgment, an incidental 
circumstance, would be sufficient for that purpose, and it were 
therefore better for the presumptuous King of Judah to remain at 
home in his proper place. 


The ai^ologues of Jotham and Jehoash are the only proper fables 
that appear in the Bible. In the interpretation of these fabulous ima 
we should guard against pressing the imagery too far. gwy not to be 
We are not to suppose that every word and allusion fatbe^inteiTre^ 
has some special meaning. In the apologue of Jehoash tation. 
we are not to say that the thornbush was Amaziah, and the cedar 
Jehoash, and the wild beast the warriors of the latter ; and yet, by 
the contrast between the cedar and the thornbush, the kins: of 
Israel would, doubtless, impress his contempt for Amaziah upon 
the latter's mind, and thus seek to humiliate his pride. Neither 
are we to suppose that Amaziah had asked Jehoash to give his 
daughter in marriage to his son ; nor that " Israel might properly 
be regarded as Jehoash's daughter, and Judah as Amaziah's son" 
(Thenius), as if Amaziah had formally demanded, as Josephus 
states, (Ant. ix, 9, 2), a union of the two kingdoms. Nor in the 
fable of Jotham are we, like some of the ancient interpreters, to 
understand by the olive, the fig-tree, and the vine, the three great 
judges that had preceded Abimelech, viz., Othniel, Deborah, and 
Gideon, nor seek for hidden meanings and thrusts in such words as 
anoint, reign over us, and shadoio. We should always keep in 
mind that it is one distinguishing feature of fables that they are 
not exact parallels of those things to which they are designed to be 
applied. They are based on imaginary actions of irrational crea- 
tures, or inanimate things, and can therefore never be true to 
actual life. 

We should also note how completely the spirit and aim of the 
fable accords with irony, sarcasm, and ridicule. Hence its special 
adaptation to expose the follies and vices of men. " It is essential- 
ly of the earth," says Trench, "and never lifts itself above the 
earth. It never has a higher aim than to inculcate maxims of pru- 
dential morality, industry, caution, foresight ; and these it will some- 
times recommend even at the expense of the higher self -forgetting 
virtues. The fable just reaches that pitch of morality which the 
world will understand and approve."^ But this able and excellent 
writer goes, as we think, too far when he says that the fable has no 
proper place in the Scripture, " and, in the nature of things, could 
have none, for the purpose of Scripture excludes it." The fables 
noticed above are a part of the Scripture which is received as God- 
inspired (2 Tim. iii, 16) ; and though it is not God that speaks 
through them, but men occupying an earthly standpoint, that fact 
does not make good the assertion that such fables have no. true 
place in Scripture. For the teachings of Scripture move in the 

^ Notes on the Parables, p. 10. 


realm of earthly life and human thought as well as in a higher and 
holier element, and sarcasm and caustic rebukes find a place on the 
sacred page. The record of Adam's naming the beasts and fowls 
that w«re brought to him in Eden (Gen. ii, 19) suggests that their 
qualities and habits impressed his mind with significant analogies. 
Many of the most useful proverbs are abbreviated fables (Prov. 
vi, 6; XXX, 15, 25-28), Though the fable moves in the earthly ele- 
ment of prudential morality, even that element may be pervaded 
and taken possession of by the divine wisdom.' 

The riddle differs from the fable in being designed to puzzle and 
Characteristics perplex the heai'er. It is purposely obscure in order to 
or the riddle, test the sharpness and penetration of those who attempt 
to solve it. The Hebrew word for riddle (HTn) is from a root wliich 
means to twist, or tie a knot, and is used of any dark and intricate 
saying, which requires peculiar skill and insight to unravel. The 
queen of Sheba made a journey to Solomon's court to test him with 
riddles (1 Kings x, 1). It is declared, at the beginning of the Book 
of the Proverbs, that it is the part of true wisdom " to understand 
a proverb and an enigma (HVyO) ; words of the wise and their 
riddles" (Prov. i, 6). The psalmist says, "I will incline my ear to 
a proverb; I will open on a harp my riddle" (Psa. xlix, 4). "I 
will open my mouth in a proverb ; I will pour forth riddles of old " 
(Ixxviii, 2). Riddles, therefore, dark sayings, enigmas, which con- 
ceal thought, and, at the same time, incite the inquiring mind to 
search for their hidden meanings, have a place in the Scripture. 

Samson's celebrated riddle is in the form of a Hebrew coui^let 
(Judges xiv, 14): 

Out of the eater came forth food. 

And out of strength came forth sweetness. 

The clue to this riddle is furnished in the incidents related in 
Samson's rid- vcrses 8 and 9. Out of the cai'cass of a devouring 
^^ beast came the food of which both Samson and his 

parents had eaten; and out of that Avhich had been the embodi- 
ment of strength, came forth the sweet honey, which the bees had 
deposited therein. But Samson's companions, and even his parents, 
were not acquainted with these facts. Their ignorance, however, 

' The profound significance of Jotham's fable is declared l)_v Cassel to he inoxliaust- 
ible. " Its truth is of perpetual recurrence. Mure than once was Israel in the posi- 
tion of the Shechcmites; then, especially, when lie whose kingdom is not of this world, 
refused to be a king. Then, too, Ilcrod and Pilate became friends. The thorubush 
seemed to be king when it encircled the head of the Crucilic<l. But Israel experienced 
what is here denounced : a fire went forth and consumed city and people, temple and 
fortress." Cassel's Commentary on Judges (Lange'a Biblework), in loco. 


is no ground for saying that therefore Samson's riddle was no 
proper riddle at all. "The ingenuity of the riddle," says Cassel, 
" consists precisely in this, that the ambiguity both of its language 
and contents can be turned in every direction, and thus conceals the 
answer. It is like a knot whose right end cannot be found. . . . 
Samson's problem distinguishes itself only by its peculiar ingenuity. 
It is short and simple, and its words are used in their natural signi- 
fication. It is so clear as to be obscure. It is not j^roperly liable 
to the objection that it refers to an historical act which no one could 
know. The act was one which was common in that country. Its 
tui-ning 2)oint, Avitli reference to the riddle was, not that it was an 
incident of Samson's j)ersonal history, but that its occurrence in 
general was not imjiossible." ^ 

A notable example of riddle in the New Testament is that of the 
mystic number of the beast propounded in Rev. xiii, 18. The number of 
" Here is wisdom. Let him that has understanding the beast. 
reckon the number of the beast, for it is a man's number ; and his 
number is six hundred sixty-six." Another very ancient reading, 
but probably the error of a copyist, makes the number six hundred 
and fourteen. This riddle has perplexed critics and interpreters 
through all the ages since the Apocalypse was written.^ The num- 
ber of a man would most naturally mean the numerical value of the 
letters which compose some man's name, and the two names which 
have found most favour in the solution of this problem are the 
Greek Aareivoq, and the Hebrew "iDp piJ. Either of these names 
makes up the required number, and one or the other will be adopt- 
ed according to one's interpretation of the symbolical beast in 

Some of the sayings of the wise in the Book of Proverbs seem to 
have been made purposely obscure. Who shall decide 
the real meaning of Prov. xxvi, 10? The English ver- 
sion renders: "The great God that formed all things both reward- - 
eth the fool, and rewardeth transgressors." But the margin gives 
us an alternative reading : " A great man grieveth all, and he hireth 
the fool, he hireth also transgressors." Others ti-anslate : "As the 
archer that Avoundeth every one, so is he that hireth the fool, and 
he that hireth the passer-by." Others : " An arrow that woundeth 
every one is he Avho hireth a fool and he who hireth vagrants." 
Others: "A master forms all things himself, but he that hires a 
fool is as he that hires vagrants." And the Hebrew words of the 

' Commentary on Judges, in loco. 

* For the various conjectures see the leading Commentaries on the passage, espe- 
cially Stuart, Ellkitt, and Diisterdieck. 

Lamech's sonor 


original are susceptible of still other renderings. A proverb couched 
in words susceptible of so many different meanings may well be 
called a riddle or " dark saying." It was probably designed to 
puzzle, and the variety of meanings attaching to its woi-ds was a 
reason Avith the author for choosing just those words. 

One of the " dark sayings of old " is the poetic fragment ascribed 
to Lamecli (Gen. iv, 23, 24), which may be closely rendered thus : 

Adah and Zillah, hear nij' voice ; 
Wives of Lamech, listen to my saying; 
For a man have I slaiu for my wound, 
And a cliild for my bruise. 
For sevenfold avenged should Cain be, 
And Lamech seventy and seven. 

The obscurity attaching to this song arises probably from our 
isrnorance of the circumstances which called it forth. Some have 
supposed that Lamech Avas smitten with remorse over 
the murder of a young man, and these Avords are his 
lamentation. Others suppose he had killed a man in self-defense, 
or in retaliation for wounds received. Others make the song a tri- 
umphant exultation over Tubal-cain's invention of brass and iron 
Aveapons, and, translating the verb as a future " I will slay," regard 
the utterance as a pompous threat. Verse 24 is then understood 
as a blasphemous boast that he could noAv aA'enge his own wrongs 
ten times more thoroughly than God Avould aA'enge the slaying of 
Cain,' Possibly the Avhole song was originally intended as a riddle, 
and was as perplexing to Lamech's Avives as to modern expositors. 

It would be Avell to make a formal distinction between the riddle 
„.,., , and the enigma, and aprJy the former terra to such in- 

Riddle and on- , . . 

iirma should be tricate Sayings as deal essentially AA'ith earthly things, 
tib ingiub L't . ^^^ ^^,^ especially designed to exercise human ingenuity 
and shrcAvdness. Such Avere Samson's riddle, and the puzzling 
questions put to Solomon by the Queen of Sheba, the number of 
the beast, and proverbs like that noticed above (Prov. xxvi, 10). 
Enigmas, on tlie other hand, Avould be the more fitting name for 
those mystic utterances Avhich serve both to conceal and enhance 
some deep and sacred thought. But the AA'ords have been so long 
used interchangeably of both classes of dark sayings that Ave can 
scarcely expect to change from such indiscriminate usage. 

The Avord enigma [alviyiia) occurs but once (1 Coi*. xiii, 12) in the 
NcAV Testament, but in the Septuagint it is employed as the Greek 
equivalent of the Hebrew HTn. In 1 Cor. xiii, 12, it is used to 

' For a full synopsis of the various interpretations of this song, see M'Clintock and 
Strong's Cyelopicdia, article Lamech. . 


indicate the dim and imperfect manner in which in this life we ap- 
prehend heavenly and eternal things: "For we see now through a 
mirror in enigma." Most expositors take the words in enigma ad- 
verbially, in the sense of darkly, dimly, in an enigmatical way. 
" But alviy^a^'' says Meyer, " is a dark saying, and the idea of the 
saying should as little be lost here as in Num. xii, 8. Luther ren- 
ders rightly: in a dark word ; which, however, should be explained 
more precisely as by nieans of an enigmatic word, whereby is meant 
the word of the Gospel revelation, which capacitates for the seeing 
(j3^eneiv) in question, however imperfect it be, and is its medium to 
us. It is aivtyfia, inasmuch as it affords to us no full clearness of 
light upon Grod's decrees, ways of salvation, etc., but keeps its con- 
tents sometimes in greater, sometimes in a less, degree (Rom. xi, 33; 
1 Cor. ii, 9) concealed, bound up in images, similitudes, types, and 
the like forms of human limitation and human speech, and conse- 
quently is foy us of a mysterious and enigmatic nature, standing in 
need of a future Xvacg (solution), and vouchsafing marig (faith), in- 
deed, but not eldog (appearance, 2 Cor. v, 7)."^ 

There is an eniofmatical element in our Lord's discourse with 
Nicodemus, John iii, 1-13. The profound lesson con- Enigmatical 
tained in the words of verse 3 : " Except a man be born ^ordrVo" niS 
from above he cannot see the kingdom of God," per- demus. 
plexed and confounded the Jewish ruler. Deep in his heart the 
Lord, who "knew Avhat was in man" (ii, 25), discerned his sjnr- 
itual need. His thoughts were too much upon the outward, the 
visible, the fleshly. The miracles of Jesus had made a deep im- 
pi-ession, and he would inquire of the great wonder-worker as of a 
divinely commissioned teacher. Jesus stops all his compliments, 
and surprises him with a mysterious word, which seems equivalent 
to saying: Do not now talk about my works, or of whence I came; 
turn your thoughts upon your inner self. What you need is not 
new knowledge, but new life; and that life can be had only by an- 
other bi7'th. And when Nicodemus uttered his surprise and won- 
der, he was rebuked by the reflection, " Art thou the teacher of 
Israel, and knowest not these things?" (ver. 10). Had not the 
psalmist prayed, " Create in me a clean heart, O God? " (Psa. Ii, 10). 
Had not the law and the prophets spoken of a divine circumcision 
of the heart? (Deut. xxx, 6; Jer. iv, 4; Ezek. xi, 19). Why then 
should such a man as Nicodemus express surprise at these deep 
sayings of the Lord? Simply because his heart-life and spiritual 
discernment were unable then to apprehend "the things of the 
Spirit of G.od" (1 Cor. ii, 14). They were as a riddle to him. 

1 Meyer on Corinthiaus, in loco. 


The same style of enigmatical discourse appears in Jesus' say- 
ings in the synagogue at Capernaum (John vi, 53-59); also in his 
first words to the woman of Samaria (John iv, 10-15), and in his 
response to the disciples when they i*eturned and "wondered that 
he was talking with a woman," and asked him to eat of the food 
they had procured (John iv, 32-38). His reply, in this last case, 
was, "I have food to eat which ye do not know." They mis- 
understood him, as did Nicodemus and the Samaritan woman. 
"What wonder," says Augustine, "if that woman did not under- 
stand Avater? Behold, the disciples do not yet understand food." ' 
They wondered whether any one had brought him something to 
eat during their absence, and then Jesus spoke more plainly: "My 
food is that (tVa, indicating conscious aim and purpose) I shall do 
the will of him that sent me, and shall complete his work." His 
success with the Samaritan woman was to him better food than any 
bodily sustenance, for it elevated his soul into the holy conviction 
and assiirance that he should successfully accomplish the whole of 
that work for which he came into the world. And then he pro- 
ceeds, adhering still to the tone and style of intermingled enigma 
and allegory: "Do not ye say that there is yet a four-month, and 
the harvest comes? Behold, I say unto you. Lift up your eyes and 
look on the fields, that they are white unto harvest. Already " he 
that reaps is receiving reward and gathering fruit into {slg, as into 
a garner) life eternal, that he who sows and he who reaps may re- 
joice together." The winning of that one Samaritan convert opens 
to Jesus' prophetic soul the great Gospel harvest of the near future, 
and he speaks of it as already at hand. Whether we regard the 
saying, " There is yet a four-month, and the harvest comes," as a 
proverb (Lightfoot, Tholuck, Liicke, De Wette, Stier), equivalent 
to. There is a space of four months between seedtime and harvest, 
or understand that the neighbouring grain fields were just sown, or 
just now green with the young tender grain (Meyer and many), 
and over them many Samaritans appeared coming to him (ver. 30), 
the great thought is still the same, and emphasizes the actual joy 
of Jesus in that hour of ingathering. Sower and reaper were to- 
gether there and then, but the disciples could scarcely take in the 
full import of Jesus' glowing words. "The disciples saw no har- 
vest field; they said and they thought assuredly. There must be at 
least four months yet ! But the Lord sets before them a mystery 

' In Joannis Evangelium Tractatus xv, 31. 

^ Most of the oldest and beat manuscript authorities omit koI after ^drj, and many 
of the best critics join ijdr/ with what follows. So Schulz, Tischendorf, Godet, and 
Westcott and Ilort. 


and an enigma, and thereby would teach them to lift up aright the 
eyes of their faith. Behold, I say unto you, I have now been sow- 
ing the word, and already behold a sudden harvest upspringing and 
ready. Should not this be my meat and my joy? O ye, my reap- 
ers, rejoice together with me, the sower, and forget ye also to 
eat ! " ' 

The words of Jesus in Liike xxii, 36, are an enigma. As he was 
about to ffo out to Gethsemane he discerned that the ^ , . .^ 

^ . .... Enigma of the 

hour of peril was at hand. He reminded his disciples sword in Luke 
of the time when he sent them forth without purse, ^^"' ' 
wallet, or shoes (Luke ix, 1-G), and drew from them the acknowl- 
edgement that they had then lacked nothing. "But now," said he, 
"he that has a purse, let him take it, and likewise a wallet; and he 
that has not, let him sell his mantle, and buy a sword." He would 
impress them with the feeling that the time of fearful conflict and 
exposure was now imminent. They must expect to be assailed, 
and should be prepared for all righteous self-defense. They would 
see times when a sword would be worth more to them than a man- 
tle. But our Lord, evidently, did not mean tliiit they should, liter- 
ally, arm themselves with the weapons of a carnal warfare, and use 
the sword to propagate his cause (Matt, xxvi, 52; John xviii, 36). 
He would significantly warn them of the coming bitter conflict and 
opposition they must meet. The world would be against them, and 
assail them in many a hostile form, and they should therefore pre- 
pare for self-defense and manly encounter. It is not the sword of 
the Spirit (Eph. vi, 17) of which the Lord here speaks, but the 
sword as the symbol of that warlike heroism, that bold and fearless 
confession, and that inflexible purpose to maintain the truth, which 
would soon be a duty and a necessity on the part of the disciples 
in order to defend their faith. But the disciples misunderstood 
these enigmatical words, and spoke of two swords which they had 
with them ! Jesus paused not to explain, and broke off that con- 
versation " in the tone of one who is conscious that others would 
not yet understand him, and who, therefore, holds further speech 
unprofitable."^ His laconic answer, it U enoiKjh, was "a gentle 
turning aside of further discussion, with a touch of sorrowful 
irony. More than your two swords ye need not ! " ^ 

A similar enigma appears in John xxi, 18, where Jesus says to 
Simon Peter: "When thou wast young thou girdedst Eniffmaticai 
thyself, and walkedst whither thou wouldest; but when words to peter, 
thou shalt be old another shall gird thee and carry thee ^'^^^ ^^^' ' 

' Stier, Words of Jesus, in loco. ^ Van Oosterzee's Commentary on Luke 

(Lange's Biljlework), in loco. ° Meyer, in loco. 



whither tliou v.ouldest not/' The writer iminediately adds that 
Jesus thereby signified (orji^iaivoiv) " by what death he should glorify 
God." But it is scarcely probable that Peter then fully compre- 
hended the saying, Comp. also John ii, 19, 

The prophetic picture of the two eagles in Ezek, xvii, 2-10, is a 

mixture of enigma (mTi) and fable (7!^D), It is fabu- 
The two eagles ° \t-/ , 

of Ezek. xvii, lous SO far as it represents the eagles as acting with 
^'^^' human intelligence and will, but, aside from this, its 

imagery belongs rather to the sphere of prophetic symbols. Alto- 
gether, it is an enigma of high prophetic character, a " dark say- 
ing," in which the real meaning is concealed behind typical images. 
In its interpretation we need to take the whole chapter together, 
and we observe that it has three distinct parts: (1) The enigma 
(verses 1-10); (2) its interpretation (11-21); (3) a Messianic proph- 
ecy based upon the foregoing imagery (22-24). The great eagle 
represents the king of Babylon, Nebuchadnezzar. The " great 
wings, with long pinions, full of feathers of many colours " (ver. 3), 
altogether furnish a striking figure of majesty, rapidity of move- 
ment, and splendour of regal power. Most expositors explain the 
great wings as denoting the wide dominion of this eagle; the long 
pinions as the extent and energy of his military power; the fulness 
of feathers to the multitude of subjects; and the many colours to the 
diversitj^ of their nations, languages, and customs. But the tracing 
of such special allusions in the natural appendages of the eagle is 
of doubtful worth, and should not be made prominent. It is better 
to understand in a more general w\ay the strength, rapidity, and 
glory of Nebuchadnezzar. Lebanon is mentioned because of its 
being the natural home of the cedar, but it hero represents Jerusa- 
lem (ver. 12), which was the home and seat of the royal seed of 
Judah. The leafy crown and topmost shoots of the cedar are the 
king and princes of Judah whom Nebuchadnezzar carried away to 
Babylon (2 Kings xxiv, 14, 15). Babylon is here called, enigmat- 
ically, "a land of Canaan," because its commerce and its diplomacy 
had made it " a city of merchants." Its self-seeking spirit of policy 
and trade made it a land of Canaan (Eng, Ver., " trafiic "). 

And now the figure changes. The eagle "took of the seed of 
the land," of the same land where the cedar grew, " and put it in 
a field of seed " (ver. 5) where it had every chance to grow. Nay, 
he took it upon many "waters as one would plant a willow; that is, 
with the care and foresight that one would exercise in setting a 
willow in a well-watered soil in which alone it can flourish. But 
this "seed of the land" was not the seed of a willow, but of a 
vine, and it " sprouted and became a spreading vine of low stature; "" 


and it was the plan of the eagle that this lowly vine should " turn 
its branches toward him, and its roots under him" (ver. G). The 
" seed of the land " (ver. 5) was the royal seed of the kingdom of 
Judah (ver. 13), Zedekiah, whom Nebuchadnezzar made king in 
Jerusalem after the capture of Jehoiachin (2 Kings xxiv, 17). 

The other great eagle was the king of Egypt, less mighty and 
glorious than the other. Toward this second eagle the vine turned 
her roots and sent forth her branches (ver. 7). The impotent but 
rebellious Zedekiah " sent his messengers to Egypt " for horses and 
people to help him against Nebuchadnezzar (ver. 15). But it was 
all in vain. He who broke his covenant and despised his oath 
(ver. 18) could not prosper; it required no great arm or many peo- 
ple to uproot and destroy such a feeble vine. The eagle of Egypt 
was powerless to help, and the Chald»an forces, like a destructive 
east wind (ver, 10), utterly withered it away. All this is brought 
out forcibly in the solemn words of the "oracle of the Lord Jeho- 
vah," verses 16-21. 

Thus far the imagery has been a mixture of fable and symbol,' 
but with verse 22 the prophet enters a higher plane of prophecy. 
The eagles drop out of view entirely, and Jehovah himself takes 
from the leafy crown of the high cedar a tender shoot (comp. Isa. 
xi, 1; liii, 2) and plants it upon the lofty mountain of Israel, where 
it becomes a glorious cedar to shelter and shade " every bird of 
every wing." This is a noble prophecy of the Messiah, springing 
from the stock of Judah, and developing from the holy '■ mountain 
of the house of Jehovah" (Micah iv, 1, 2) a kingdom of marvellous 
growth and of gracious protection to all who may seek its shelter. 
We should note especially haw the Messianic prophecy here leaves 
the realm of fable and takes on the style of allegory and parable. 
Com-p. Matt, xiii, 31, 32. 

1 Schroder observes that the mixed figure here used by Ezekiel goes far beyond 
mere popular illustration, and must not "be explained away from the aesthetic stand- 
point, as merely another rhetorical garb for the thought. As in the parable the em- 
blematic form preponderates over the thought, so also here. What the prophet is to 
say to Israel is said by the whole of that mighty array of figurative expression, for 
which the animal and vegetable worlds furnish the figures. But the eagle does what 
eagles otherv.'ise never do ; and what is planted as a willow grows as a vine ; and the 
vine is represented as falling in love with the other eagle. The contradictory char- 
acter of such a representation, and the fact that in the difficulties to be solved 
(ver. 9, sq.) the comparison comes to a stand, and the closing Messianic poftion in 
which the whole culminates, convert the parable into a riddle. A trace of irony and 
the moral tendency, such as belong to the fable, are not wanting." Commentary on 
Ezekiel (in Lange's Biblework), in loco. 




Among the figurative forms of scriptural speech the parable has a 

notable pre-eminence. We find a number of examples ' 
of parabolic in the Old Testament, and the esteem in which this 
teaching. niode of teaching was held by the ancient Jews is ap- 
])arent from the following words of the son of Sirach: 

He who gives his soul and exercises his mind in the law of the 

Most High 
Will seek out the wisdom of the ancients, 
And will be occupied with propliecies. 
He will observe the utterances of men of fame, 
And will enter with them into the twists {oTpo^alg) of parables. 
He will seek out the hidden things of proverbs, 
And busy himself with the enigmas of parables.' 

Parables are especially worthy of our study, inasmuch as they were 
the chosen methods by which our Lord set forth many revelations 
of his heavenly kingdom. They were also employed by the great 
rabbis who -were contemporary with Jesus, and they frequently ap- 
pear in the Talmud and other Jewish books. Among all the orien- 
tal peoples they appear to have been a favourite form of conveying 
moral instruction, and find a place in the literature of most nations. 
The word jxirable is derived from the Greek verb napajSdXXo), to 
The parable de- f^i^oio or j!>feee b>/ the side of, and carries the idea of 
flied- placing one thing by the side of another for the pur- 

pose of comparison. The word has been somewhat vaguely used, 
as we have seen above," to represent the Hebrew ?B^, and to desig- 
nate proverbs, types, and symbols (as in Luke iv, 23; Heb. ix, 9; 
xi, 19). But, strictly speaking, the parable belongs to a style of 
figurative speecli which constitutes a class of its own. It is essen- 
tially a comparison, or simile, and yet all simdes are not parables. 
The simile may appropriate a comparison from any kind or class of 
objects, whether real or imaginary. The parable is limited in its 
range, and confined to that which is real. Its imagery always em- 
bodies a narrative which is true to the facts and experiences of hu- 
man life. It makes no use, like the fable, of talking birds and 
' Ecclesiasticus xxxix, 1-3. * See above on p. 265. 


beasts, or of trees in council. Like the riddle and enigma, it may 
serve to conceal a truth fi-om those who have not spiritual pene- 
tration to perceive it under its figurative form; but its narrative 
style, and the formal comparison always announced or assumed, 
differentiate it clearly from all classes of knotty sayings which are 
designed mainly to puzzle and confuse. The parable, when once 
understood, unfolds and illustrates the mysteries of the kingdom of 
heaven. The enigma may embody profound truths, and make 
much use of metaphor, but it never, like the parable, forms a nar- 
rative, or assumes to make a formal comparison. The parable and 
the allegory come nearer together, so that, indeed, parables have 
been defined as "historical allegories;" ' but they differ from each 
other in substantially the same way as simile differs from meta- 
phor. The parable is essentially a formal comparison, and requires 
its interpreter to go beyond its own narrative to bring in its mean- 
ing; the allegory is an extended metaphor, and contains its inter- 
pretation within itself. The parable, therefore, stands apart by it- 
self as a mode and style of figurative speech. It moves in an 
element of sober earnestness, never transgressing in its imagery 
the limits of probability, or of what might be actual fact. It may 
tacitly take up within itself essential elements of enigma, type, 
symbol, and allegory, but it differs from them all, and in its own 
chosen sphere of real, every-day life, is peculiarly adapted to body 
forth special teachings of Him who is " the Verax, no less than the 
F^n<6', and the Veritas.^^ * 

The general design of parables, as of all other kinds of figurative 
language, is to embellish and set forth ideas and moral General use of 
truths in attractive and impressive forms. Many a parables. 
moral lesson, if spoken in naked, literal style, is soon forgotten; but, 
clothed in parabolic dress, it arouses attention, and fastens itself in 
the memory. Many rebukes and pungent warnings may be couched 

' Davidson's Hermeneutics, p. 311. 

'^ Trench on the Miracles, p. 127. This eminent divine, whose work on the para- 
bles is one of the best of its Icind, traces to considerable extent the differences 
between the parable, the fable, the myth, the proverb, and the allegory, and sums 
up as follows : " The parable differs from the fable, moving as it does in a spiritual 
world, and never transgressing the actual order of things natural ; from the mythus, 
there being in the latter an unconscious blending of the deeper meaning with the out- 
ward symbol, the two remaining separate and separable in the parable ; from the 
proverb, inasmuch as it is longer carried out, and not merely accidentally and occa- 
sionally, but necessarily figurative ; from the allegory, comparing as it does one thing 
with another, at the same time preserving them apart as an inner and an outer, not 
transferring, as does the allegory, the proprieties, and (puilities, and relations of one 
lo the other."— Notes on the Parables, pp. 15, 16. New York, 1857. 


in a parable, and thereby give less offence, and yet work better 
effects than open plainness of speech could do. Nathan's par- 
able (in 2 Sam. xii, 1-4) prepared the heart of David to receive 
with profit the keen reproof he v/as about to administer. Some of 
our Lord's most ]Dointcd parables against the Jews — parables which 
they perceived were directed against themselves — embodied re- 
proof, rebuke, and warning, and yet by their form and drapery, 
they served to shield him from open violence (Matt, xxi, 45; Mark 
xii, 12; Luke xx, 19). It is easy, also, to see that a parable may 
enshrine a profound truth or mystery which the hearers may not 
at first apprehend, but which, because of its striking or memorable 
form, abides more firmly in the mind, and so abiding, yields at 
length its deep and precious meaning.' 

The special reason and purpose of the parables of Jesus are stated 
Special reason in Matt, xiii, 10-17. Up to that point in his ministry 
and puipose of jggug appears not to have spoken in parables. " The 
Jesus. words of grace (Aoy^a rrjg x^P'-'^^?) which proceeded 

from his mouth" (Luke iv, 22) in the synagogue, by the seashore, 
and on the mount, were direct, simple, and plain. lie used simile 
and metaphor in the sermon on the mount, and elsewhere. In the 
synagogue at Nazareth he quoted a familiar proverb and called it a 
parable (Luke iv, 23). His words had power and authority, unlike 
those of the scribes, and the people were astonished at his teaching. 
But there came a time Avhen he notably changed his style. His 
simple precepts were often met with derision and scorn, and among 
the multitudes there were always some who were anxious to pervert 
his sayings. When multitudes gathered by the sea of Galilee to 
liear him, " and he spoke to them many things in parables " (Matt, 
xiii, 3), his disciples quickly observed tlie change and asked him, 
"Why in parables dost thou speak to them?" Our Lord's answer 
is remarkable for its blended use of metaphor, proverb, and enigma, 
so combined and connected with a prophecy of Isaiah (vi, 9, 10), 
that it becomes in itself one of the profoundest of his discourses. 

Because to you it is given to know tlie mysteries of tlie kingdom of tlie 
lieiivens, but to them it is not given. For whosoever lias, to iiim shall be 
i;ivc'ii and he shall supeiabound; but whosoever has not, even what he has 

' Treiieh writes of our Lord's parables : "His words laid up in tlic memory were to 
many that heard them like the money of another country, unavailable, it might be, for 
present use, of which they knew not the value, but which yet was ready in their hand 
when they reached that land and were naturalized in it. When the Spirit came and 
brought all things to their remembrance, then he filled all the outh'nes of truth which 
they before possessed with its substance, quickened all its forms with the power and 
spirit uf life." — Notes on tlie Parables, p. 28. 


shall be taken away from him. Therefore I speak to them in parables; be- 
cause seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor understand. 
And with them is fulfilled the projDhecy of Isaiah, which says. By hearing 
ye shall hear and in no wise understand ; and seeing ye shall see and in no 
wise perceive ; for thick became the heart of this people, and they heard 
heavily with their ears, and their eyes they closed, lest haply they should 
perceive with their eyes, and with their ears hear, and with the heart un- 
derstand, and should turn again, and I should heal them. Matt, xiii, 11-15. 

The great thought in this answer seems to be that the Lord had 
a twofold purpose in the use of parables, namely, both 
to reveal and to conceal great truths.' There was, first, reveal and con- 
that inner circle of followers who' received his word with ^^^^ ^^"''^' 
joy, and who, like those who shared in the secret counsels of other 
kingdoms, were gifted to know the mysteries of the Messianic reign/ 
long hidden, but now about to be made known (comp. Rom. xi, 25 ; 
xvi, 25 ; Col. i, 26). These should realize the truth of the proverb, 
"Whosoever has to him shall be given," etc. This proverb ex- 
presses in an enigmatical way a most weighty and wonderful law 
of experience in the things of God. He who is gifted with a desire 
to know God, and to appropriate rightly the provisions of his grace, 
shall increase in wisdom and knowledge more and more by the 
manifold revelations of divine truth. But the man of opposite 
character, who has heart, soul, and mind wherewith to love God, 
but is unwilling to use his powers in earnest search for the 
truth, shall lose even what he seems to have.^ His powers will 
become weak and worthless by inactivity, and like the slothful 
servant in the parable of the talents,* he will lose that which should 
have been his glory. 

1 The iva in the parallel passages of Mark iv, 12 and Luke viii, 10 shows that our 
Lord teaches in these words the f7ial end and purpose of his parables, not merely 
their results. The quotation from Isaiah evinces the same thing. 

2 " The kingdom of heaven," says Stier, "is itself a mystery for the natural earthly 
understanding, and, like earthly kingdoms, it has its state secrets, which cannot and 
ought not to be cast before every one. When, on a frank and friendly approach be- 
ing made, no feeling of loyalty shows itself, but rather a threatening of rebellion, 
then it is wise and reasonable to draw a veil, which, however, is willingly removed 
whenever any faithful one wishes to join himself more nearly to the king." — Words 
of the Lord Jesus, in loco. 

3 So Luke (viii, 18) expresses the thought: Kal b SokeI exeiv. On which Stier re- 
marks: "For every excjv (one having) who does not keep (KaTexei) is only a doKoiv 
exiiv (one seeming to have) in a manifold sense. It is an imaginary having, tlie noth- 
ingness of which is to be made manifest by a so-called taking, whicli yet properly 
takes nothing from him. It is a having which has become lost througli his unfaith- 
fulness (2 John 8)." 

* Of whom the same proverb is used again, and more fully illustrated, Matt, xxv, 
28, 29. Comp. also John xv, 2. 


And so the use of parables, in our Lord's teaching, became a test 
Parables a test ^f character. With tliose disposed to know and accept 
of character. iI^q truth the words of a parable served to arouse atten- 
tion and to excite inquiry. If they did not at first apprehend the 
meaning, they would come, like the disciples to the Master (Matt, 
xiii, 36; Mark iv, 10), and inquire of him, assured that all who 
asked, searched, or knocked (Matt, vii, 7)* at the door of Divine 
Wisdom should certainly obtain their desire. Even those who at 
first are dull of apprehension may be attracted and captivated by 
the outer form of the parable, and by honest inquiry come to master 
the laws of interpretation until they "know all parables" (Mark 
iv, 13). But the perverse and fleshly mind shows its real character 
by making no inquiry and evincing no desire to understand the 
mysteries of the kingdom of God. Such a mind treats those mys- 
teries as a species of folly (1 Cor. i, 18). 

The parables of the Bible are remarkable for their beauty, vari- 
Superior beauty ety, conciseness, and fulness of meaning. There is a 
nesso^^'\"riptu*re noticeable appropriateness in the parables of Jesus, 
parables. and their adaptation to the time and place of their 

first utterance. The parable of the sower was spoken by the sea- 
side (Matt, xiii, 1, 2), whence might have been seen, at no great 
distance oif, a sower actually engaged in sowing his seed. The 
parable of the dragnet in the same chapter (verses 47-50) may 
have been occasioned by the sight of such a net close by. The 
parable of the nobleman going into a far country to receive for 
himself a kingdom (Luke xix, 12) was probably suggested by the 
case of Archelaus, who made a journey from Judea to Rome to 
plead his right to the kingdom of Herod his father.' As Jesus had 
just passed thi'ough Jericho and was approaching Jerusalem, per- 
haps the sight of the royal palace which Archelaus had recently 
rebuilt at Jericho ^ suggested the allusion. Even the literal nai-ra- 
tive of some of the parables is in the highest degree beautiful and 
impressive. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke x, 30-37) 
was probably based on fact. The road from Jerusalem to Jericho 
was notably infested by robbers, and yet, leading as it did from 
Perea to the holy city, it would be frequented by priests and Le- 
vites passing to and fro. The coldness and neglect of the ministers 
of the law, and the tender compassion of the Samaritan, are full of 
interest and rich in suggestions. The narrative of the Prodigal 
Son has been called "the pearl and crown of all the parables of 
Scripture," and " a gospel in a gospel." ' We never tire of its literal 

* Josephus, Ant., xvii, 9, 1 ff. 11, 4. * Ibid., xvii, 11, 13. 

'Comp. Trench on the I'arables, p. 316. 


statements, for they are as full of naturalness and beauty as they 
are of lessons of sin and redemption. 

The parable is commonly assumed to have three parts, (1) the 
occasion and scope, (2) the similitude, in the form of a _ 

^ , ' Three essential 

real narrative, and (3) the moral and religious lessons, eiemeuts of a 
These three parts are called by Salmeron, Glassius, and p^'"*^^^*^- 
others, the root or basis' (radix), the bark or covering (cortex), and 
the marrow (medulla) or inner substance and core.' The last two 
are often called, respectively, the protasis and the apodosis. The 
main thing in the construction of a parable is its similitude, or lit- 
eral narrative, for this always appears, and constitutes the parable 
as a figure of speech. The occasion and scope^ as well as the in- 
ternal sense, are not always expressed. In most cases, in fact, the 
apodosis, or inner sense, is left for the hearer to find out for himself, 
and sometimes the occasion and scope are difficult to determine. 
But our Lord himself has given us two examples of interpreting 
parables;'' and frequently the scope and aj^plication of the parable 
are formally stated in the context, so that, with but few exceptions, 
the parables of Scripture are not difficult to explain.^ 

As every parable essentially involves the three elements named 
above, the hermeneutical principles which should guide Three princi- 
ns in understanding all parables are mainly three. fer'SSar- 
First, we should determine the historical occasion and aWes. 
aim of the parable ; secondly, we should make an accurate analysis 

' Salmeron, De Parabolis Domini nostri, tr. iii, p. 15. Glassius, Philologia Sacra 
(Lips. 1'725) lib. ii, pars i, tr. ii, sect. 5. Home (Introduction, ed. Ayre and Treg., 
vol. ii, p. 346) adopts the same division, and calls the three parts, respectively, the 
root or scojje, the sensible similitude^ and the explanation or mystical sense. Davidson 
(Hermeneutics, p. 311) says: "In the parable as in the allegory three things de- 
mand attention: (1) The thing to be illustrated ; (2) the example illustrating; (3) the 
tertium comparationis, or the similitude existing between them." 

2 Namely, in the interpretation of the parables of the sower (Matt, xiii, 18-23) and 
of the tares of the field (Matt, xiii, 36-43). Trench observes, " that when our Lord 
himself interpreted the two first which he delivered, it is more than probable that he 
intended to furnish us with a key for the interpretation of all. These explanations, 
therefore, are most important, not merely for their own sakes, but as laying down the 
principles and canons of interpretation to be applied throughout." — Notes on the 
Parables, p. 36. 

3 Trench (Parables, p. 32) beautifully observes : " The parables, fair in their out- 
ward form, are yet fairer within — apples of gold in network of silver : each one of 
them like a casket, itself of exquisite workmanship, but in which jewels yet richer 
than itself are laid up ; or as fruit, which, however lovely to look upon, is yet more 
delectable still in its inner sweetness. To find the golden key for this casket, at the 
touch of which it shall reveal its treasures ; to open this fruit, so that nothing of its 
hidden kernel shall be missed or lost, has naturally been regarded ever as a matter of 
high concern." 


of the subject matter, and observe the nature and properties of 
the things employed as imagery in the similitude ; and thirdly, we 
should interpret the several parts with strict reference to the gen- 
eral scope and design of the whole, so as to preserve a harmony of 
proportions, maintain thft unity of all the parts, and make promi- 
nent the great central truth.' These principles can become of 
practical value only by actual use and illustration in the interpre- 
tation of a variety of parables. 

As our Lord has left us a formal explanation of what were prob- 
ably the first two parables he uttered, we do well, first of all, to 
Principles ii- note the principles of interpretation as they appear illus- 
lustratedmthe ^,.j^^^.^^ j^ his examples. In the parable of the sower we 
Sower. find it easy to conceive the position and surroundings 

of Jesus when he opened his parabolic discourse. He had gone out 
to the seaside and sat down there, but when the multitudes crowded 
around him, " he entered into a boat and sat ; and all tlie multitude 
stood on the beach" (Matt, xiii, 2). How natural and appropriate 
for him then and there to think of the various dispositions and 
characters of those before him. How like so many kinds of soil 
were their hearts. How was his preaching " the word of the king- 
dom" (verse 19) like a sowing of seed, suggested perhaps by the 
sight of a sower, or of a sown field, on the neighbouring coast.' 
Nay, how was his coming into the world like a going forth to sow. 

Passing now to notice the similitude itself, we observe that our 
Lord attached significance to the seed sown, the wayside and tlie 
birds, the rocky places, the thorns, and the good ground. Each of 
these parts has a relevancy to the whole. In that one field where 
the sower scattered his grain there were all these kinds of soil, 
and the nature and properties of seed and soil are in perfect keep- 
ing with the results of that sowing as stated in the parable. The 
soil is in every case a human heart. The birds represent the evil 
one,' who is ever opposed to the work of the sower, and watches to 
snatch away that which is sown in the heart, "that they may not 

1 One may con)i)are the entire parable with a circle, of which tlic middle point is the 
spiritual truth or doctrine, and of which the radii are the several circumstances of the 
narration; so long as one has not placed himself in the centre, neither the circle itself 
appears in its perfect shape, nor will the beautiful unity with which the radii converge 
to a single point be perceived, but this is all oljscrved so soon as the eye looks forth 
from the centre. Even so in the parable, if wo have recognized its middle point, its 
main doctrine, in full light, then will the jiroportion and riglit signification of all i)ar- 
ticular circumstances be clear unto us, and we shall lay stress ujx)!! them oidy so far 
as the main truth is thereby more vividly set forth. — Lisco, Die Parabeln Jesu, p. 22. 
Fairbairn's Translation (Edinbiirgli Bib. Cal)inet), p. 29. 

'See Stanley, Sinai and Palestine, p. 418. ^Mark says Satan; Luke, the deviL 


believe and be saved " (Luke viii, 1 2). He who hears the Word and 
understands not — on whom the heavenly truth makes no impression 
— may Avell be likened to a trodden pathway. " He has brought 
himself to it; he has exposed his heart as a common road to every 
evil influence of the world till it has become hard as a pavement — 
till he has laid waste the very soil in which the word of God should 
have taken root; and he has not submitted it to the ploughshare of 
ths law, which would have broken it; which, if he had suffered it 
to do the work which God appointed it to do, would have gone be- 
fore, preparing that soil to receive the seed of the Gospel." ' With 
equal force and propriety the rocky places, the thorns, and the 
good grovmd represent so many varieties of hearers of the Word. 
The application of the parable, closing with the significant words, 
"he that has ears let him hear" (verse 8), might be safely left 
to the minds and consciences of the multitudes Avho heard it. 
Among those multitudes were doubtless many representatives of 
all the classes designated. 

The parable of the tares of the field had the same historical occa- 
sion as that of the sower, and is an important supple- „ ., , ,, 

' . ^ . -i i Parable of the 

ment to it. In the interpretation of the foregoing par- Tares and its 
able the sower was not made prominent. The seed ii^terpretation. 
was declared to be " the word of the kingdom," ^ and its character 
and worth are variously indicated, but no explanation was given of 
the sower. In this second parable the sower is prominently set 
forth as the Son of man, the sower of good seed; and the work of 
his great enemy, the devil, is presented with equal })iominence. 
But we are not to suppose that this parable takes up and carries 
with it all the imagery and implications of the one preceding. 
Other considerations are introduced under other imagery. But in 
seeking the occasion and connexion of all the parables recorded in 
Matt, xiii, we should note how one grows out of the other as by a 
logical sequence. Three of them were spoken privately to the dis- 
ciples, but the whole seven were ap}>ropriate for tlie seaside; for 
those of the mustard-seed, the treasure hid in a field, and the drag- 
net, no less than the sower and the tares of tlie field, may have been 
suggested to Jesus by the scenes around him, and those of the 
leaven and the merchantman seeking pearls were but counterparts, 
respectively, of the mustard-seed and the hid treasure. Stiei-'s 
suggestion, also, is worthy of note, that the ])arable of the tares 
corresponds with the first kind of soil mentioned in the parable of 
the sower, and helps to answer the question. Whence and how tliat 

' Trench, Notes on the Parables, p. 61. 

^ In Luke viii, 11, it is written: "The seed is the word of God." 


soil had come to serve so well the purpose of the devil. The para- 
ble of the mustard-plant, whose growth was so groat, stands in 
notable contrast with the second kind of soil in which there was no 
real growth at all. The parable of the leaven suggests the oppo- 
site of the heart overgrown with worldliness, namely, a heart per- 
meated and purified by the inner workings of grace, while the fifth 
and sixth parables — those of the treasure and the pearl of great 
price — represent the various experiences of the good heart (repre- 
sented by the good ground) in apprehending and appropriating the 
precious things of the Word of the kingdom. The seventh para- 
ble, that of the dragnet, appropriately concludes all with the doc- 
trine of the separating judgment which shall take place " in the 
end of the age" (verse 49). Such an inner relation and connexion 
we do well to trace, and the suggestions thereby afforded may be 
especially valuable for homiletical purposes. They serve for in- 
struction, but they should not be insisted on as essential to a cor- 
rect interpretation of the several parables. 

In the interpretation of the second parable Jesus gives special 
Thino-s inter- significance to the sower, the field, the good seed, the 
preted and tares, the enemy, the harvest, and the reapers; also the 
ticed in Jesus' final burning of the tares and the garnering of the 
exposition. wheat. But we should observe that he does not attach 
a meaning to the men who slept, nor to the sleeping, nor to the 
springing up of tlie blades of wheat, and their yielding fruit, nor 
to the servants of the householder and the questions they asked. 
These are but incidental })arts of the parable, and necessary to a 
happy filling up of its narrative. An attempt to show a special 
meanino; in them all would tend to obscure and confuse the main 
lessons. So, if we would know how to interpret all parables, we 
should notice what our Lord omitted as well as what he empha- 
sized in those expositions which are given us as models; and we 
should not be anxious to find a hidden meaning in every word and 

At the same time we need not deny that these two parables con- 
We mav notice tained some other lessons which Jesus did not bring out 
some things i^ his interpretation. There was no need for liim to 

w hi ell Jesus '■ . , , 

had no need to State the occasioH ot lus ])arables, or what suggested 
'^°''^- the imagery to his mind, or the inner logical connexion 

which they sustained to one another. These things might be safe- 
ly left to every scribe who sliould become a disciple to the kingdom 
of heaven (Matt, xiii, 52). In his ex{)lanation of tlie first parable, 
Jesus sufficiently indicated that particular words and allusions, like 
the having no root {ro fii) t^etv pi^av, ]Matt. xiii, G), and choked 


(drreTTvi^av, ver. 7; comp. avvTcvLyei in ver. 22) may suggest important 
thoughts; and so the incidental words of the second parable, "lest 
haply while gathering up the tares ye root up the wheat with them " 
(verse 29), though not afterward referred to in the explanation, 
may also furnish lessons worthy of our consideration. So, too, 
it may serve a useful purpose, in interpretation, to show the fitness 
and beauty of any particular image or allusion. We would not ex- 
pect our Lord to call the attention of his hearers to such things, 
but his well-disciplined disciples should not fail to note the pro- 
priety and suggestiveness of comparing the word of God to good 
seed, and the children of the evil one to tares,' The trodden path, 
the rocky places, and the thorny ground, have peculiar fitness to 
represent the several states of heart denoted thereby. Even the 
incidental remark " while men slept " (Matt, xiii, 25) is a suggestive 
hint that the enemy wrought his malicious work in darkness and 
secrecy, when no one would be likely to be present and interrupt 
him; but it would break the unity of the parable to interpret these 
words, as some have done, of the sleep of sin (Calovius), or the 
dull slowness of man's spiritual development and human weakness 
generally (Lange), or the careless negligence of religious teachers 

It is also to be admitted that some incidental words, not designed 
to be made prominent in the interpretation, may, nev- suggestive 
ertheless, deserve attention and comment, Not a little words and aiiu- 

' . 1 T • T /• 1 sions deserve 

pleasure and much mstruction may be derived from the Attention and 
incidental parts of some parables. The hundredfold, comment, 
sixty fold, and thirtyfold increase, mentioned in the parable of the 
soAver, and in its interpretation, may be profitably compared with 
making the five talents increase to ten talents, and the two to four 
(in Matt, xxv, 16-22), and also with the increase in the parable of 
the pounds (Luke xix, lG-19), The peculiar expressions, "he that 
was sown by the wayside," "he that was sown upon the rocky 
places," are not, as Alford truly observes, "a confusion of simili- 
tudes — no primary and secondary interpretation of OTTopog [seed], — 
but the deep truth both of nature and of grace. The seed sown, 
springing up in the earth, becomes the plant, and bears the fruit, or 
fails of bearing it; it is, therefore, the representative, when sown, 
of the individuals of Avhom the discourse is," ^ Especially do we 
notice that the seed which, in the first parable, is said to be " the 
word of God" (Luke viii, 11), is defined in the second as "the 

' Greek iC,L^6.via, darnel, which is said to resemble wheat in its earlier stages of 
growth, but shows its real character more clearly at the harvest time, 
"^ Greek Testament, in loco. 


children of tlie kingdom ■" (Matt, xiii, 38). A different stage of prog- 
ress is tacitly assumed, and we tliink of the word of God as having 
developed in the good heart in which it was cast until it has taken 
up that heart within itself and made it a new creation.' 

From the above examples we may derive the general principles 
Not specidc which are to be observed in the interpi-etation of 
rules, but sound pjii-ai^it^g, Xo Specific rules can be formed that will 

sense and d i s- ^ '- 

criminating apply to every case, and show what parts of a parable 
g"udeuieinter- ^^'^ designed to be significant, and what parts are mere 
preter. drapery and form. Sound sense and delicate discrimina- 

tion are to be cultivated and matured by a protracted study of all 
the parables, and by careful collation and comparison. Our Lord's 
examples of interpretation show that most of the details of his par- 
ables have a meaning; and yet there are incidental words and allu- 
sions which are not to be pressed into significance. We should, 
therfore, study to avoid, on the one side, the extreme of ingenuity 
which searches for hidden meanings in every word, and, on the 
other, the disposition to i)ass over many details as mere rhetorical 
figures. In general it may be said that most of the details in a 
})arable have a meaning, and those which have no special signifi- 
cance in the interpretation, serve, nevertheless, to enhance the force 
and beauty of the rest. Such parts, as Boyle observes, " are like 
the feathers Avliieh wing our arrows, which, though they pierce not 
like the head, but seem slight things, and of a different matter from 
the rest, are yet requisite to make the shaft to pierce, and do both 
convey it to and penetrate the mark." * We may also add, with 
Trench, that " it is tolerable evidence that we have found the ritrht 
interpretation of a parable if it leave none of the main circum- 
stances unexplained. A false interpretation will inevitably betray 
itself, since it Avill invariably paralyze and render nugatory some 
important member of an entire account. If we have the right key 
in our hand, not merely some of the words, but all, will have their 
corresponding parts, and, moreover, the key will turn without 
grating or overmuch forcing; and if we have the right interpreta- 
tion it will scarcely need to be defended and made j)lausil)le with 
great appliance of learning, to be propped up by remote allusions 
to rabbinical or profane literature, or by illustrations drawn from 
the recesses of antiquity." ^ 

The prophet Isaiah, in chap, v, 1-6, sings of his Beloved Friend, 

' " Our life," says Lange, " becomes identified with the spiritual seed, and principles 
assume, so to speak, a bodily shape in individuals." Commentary on Matthew, in loco. 
* Quoted by Trench, Notes on the Parables, p. 34. 
^ Notes on the Parables, p. «'.>. 


and his Friend's own song touching his vineyard, and in verse 1 
declares that 

Tlie vineyard of Jehovuh of hosts is the house of Israel, 
And the man of Judah is the phmt of his delight; 
And he waited for justice, and behold bloodshed, 
For righteousness, and behold a cry. 

This short explanation gives the main purpose of the parable. 

No special meaning is put on the digging, the gathering out of 

the stones, the tower, and the winevat. Our Lord appropriates 

the imagery of this passage in his parable of the wicked , . , 

T ,-./r ■ . isaiaii s para- 

husbandmen (Matt. XXI, 33-44). But to understand, weof tiieVine- 

in either parable, that the tower represents Jerusalem ^^'^'^' 
(Grotius), or the temple (Bengel), that the winevat is the altar 
(Chrysostom), or the prophetic institution (Irena^us), that the gath- 
ering out of the stones denotes the expulsion of the Canaanites 
from the Holy Land, together with the stone idols (Grotius), is to 
go upon doubtful ground, and introduce that which will confuse 
rather than elucidate. These several jDarticulars are rather to be 
taken together as denoting the complete provision which Jehovah 
made for the security, culture, and prosperity of his people. "What 
is there to do more for my vineyard," he asks, " that I have not 
done in it ? " He had spared no pains or outlay, and yet, when the 
time of grape harvest came, his vineyard brought forth wild grapes. 
What would seem to have been so full of hope and promise yielded 
only disappointment and chagrin. The grapes he expected were 
truth and righteousness; those which he found were bloodshed and 
oppression. He announces, accordingly, his purpose to destroy that 
vineyard, and make it an utter desolation, a threat fearfully ful- 
filled in the subsequent history of Israel and the Holy Land. 

Such is the substance of the interpretation of Isaiah's parable, 
but the language in which it is clothed has many beautiful strokes 
and delicate allusions which are worthy of attention.' Our Lord's 
parable of the wicked husbandmen, which is based upon its im- 
agery, may be profitably noticed in connexion with it. It is 

'Such, for instance, is the "very fertile hill" in which this vineyard was planted; 
literally, in a horn, a son of oil, or fatness; metaphor for a horn-shaped hill of rich 
soil, and used in allusion to the land of promise (comp. Deut. viii, 7-9). There is 
also an ironical play on the Hebrew words iov justice and bloodshed, righteousness and 
o-y in the last two lines of verse Y : "He looked for tOStJ'D, mishpat, and behold 

' T ; ■ 

natip, mispach, for :i,\r\% tzdhakah, and behold npyV' tzr/nakah:'' Contrast also the 
jubilant opening in which the, prophet essays to sing his well-beloved's song with the 
change of person in verso 3 and the sad tone of disappointment which follows. 


recorded by Matthew (xxi, 33-44), Mark (xii, 1-12), and Luke 
(xx, 9-18), and, though spoken in tlie cars of "the peoj^le " (Luke 
XX, 9), the chief priests, the scribes, and the Pharisees understood 
that it was directed against them (Matt, xxi, 45; Luke xx, 19). 
Tlie context also informs us (in Matt, xxi, 43) that the 

Piirablt? of the 

Wicked Hus- vineyard represents " the kingdom of God." In Isaiali's 
bandmcn. parable the whole house of Israel is at fault, and is 

threatened with utter destruction. Here the fault is with the hus- 
bandmen to whom the vineyard was leased, and whose wickedness 
appears most flagrant; and here, accordingly, the threat is not to 
destroy the vineyard, but the husbandmen. The great questions, 
then, in the interpretation of our Lord's parable, are: (1) "What is 
meant by the vineyard? (2) Who are the husbandmen, servants, 
and son ? (3) AVhat events are contemplated in the destruction of 
the husbandmen and the giving of the vineyard to others ? These 
questions are not hard to answer: (1) The vineyard in Isaiah is the 
Israelitish people, considered not merely as the Old Testament 
Church, but also as the chosen nation established in the land of 
Canaan. Here it is the more spiritual idea of the kingdom of God 
considered as an inheritance of divine grace and truth to be so ap- 
prehended and utilized unto the honour and glory of God as that 
husbandmen, servants, and Son may be joint heirs and partakers of 
its benefits. (2) The husbandmen are the divinely commissioned 
leaders and teachers of the people, whose business and duty it Avas 
to guide and instruct those committed to their care in the true 
knowledge and love of God. They were the chief priests and 
scribes who heard this parable, and kncAV that it was spoken against 
them. The servants, as distinguished from the husbandmen, are to 
be understood of the prophets, who toere sent as special messengers 
of God, and whose mission was usually to the leaders of the people.' 
But they had been mocked, despised, and maltreated in many ways 
(2 Chron. xxxvi, IG); Jeremiah was shut up in prison (Jer. xxxii, 3), 
and Zechariah was stoned (2 Chron. xxiv, 21; comp. Matt, xxiii, 
34-37, and Acts vii, 52). The one son, the beloved, is, of course, 
the Son of man, who " came unto his own, and they that Avere his 
own received him not" (John i, 11). (3) The destruction of the 
wicked husbandmen was accomplished in the utter overthrow and 
miserable ruin of the Jewish leaders in the fall of Jerusalem. Then 
the avenging of "all the righteous blood" of the prophets came 
upon that generation (Matt, xxiii, 35, 30), and then, too, the 

' Servants are the extraordinary ministers of God, husbandmen tlie ordinary. The 
former arc almost "Silways badly roceived by the latter, who take ill the iuterniptiou 
of their own quiet possession. — Beiigel, Gnomon, in loco. 


vineyard of the kingdom of God, repaired and restored as the New 
Testament Church, was transferred to the Gentiles. 

There are many minor lessons and suggestive hints in the lan- 
guage of this parable, but they should not, in an expo- 

°. . ° , , ^ - . . •' . ' ^ Minor points 

sition, be elevated into such prommence as to confuse not to be made 
these leading thoughts. Here, as in Isaiah, we should P''"™i°^°t- 
not seek special meanings in the hedge, winepress, and tower, nor 
should we make a great matter of what particular fruits the owner 
had reason to expect, nor attempt to identify each one of the ser- 
vants sent with some particular prophet or messenger mentioned in 
Jewish history. Still less should we think of finding special mean- 
ings in forms of expression used by one of the evangelists and not 
by another. Some of these minor points may be rich in sugges- 
tions and abundantly worthy of comment, but in view of the over- 
straining which they have too frequently received at the hands of 
expositors we need the constant caution that at most they are in- 
cidental rather than important. 

Two other parables of our Lord illustrate the casting off of the 
Jews and the calling of the Gentiles. They are the ^ 

, •' Comparison of 

marriage of the King s Son (Matt, xxii, 2-14), and the analogous par- 
great supper (Luke xiv, 16-24). The former is recorded ^^^^^' 
only by Matthew, and follows immediately after that of the wicked 
husbandmen. The latter is recorded only by Luke. Some of the 
rationalistic critics have argued that these are but different versions 
of the same discourse, but a careful analysis will show that, while 
they have marked analogies, they have also numerous ^joints of 
difference. And it is an aid to the interpretation of such analogous 
parables to study them together and mark their diverging lines of 
thought. The jjarable of the marriage of the King's Son, as com- 
pared with that of the wicked husbandmen, exhibits an advance in 
thought as notable as that observed in the parable of the tares as 
compared with that of the sower. Trench here observes " how the 
Lord is revealing himself in ever clearer light as the central person 
of the kingdom, giving here a far plainer hint than there of the 
nobility of his descent. There he was indeed the son, the only and 
beloved one, of the householder; but here his race is royal, and he 
appears himself at once as the King and the King's Son (Psa. Ixxii, 1). 
This appearance of the householder as the King announces that 
the sphere in which this parable moves is the New paraWe of Mar- 
Testament dispensation — is the kingdom which was an- riage of King's 
nounced before, but was only actually present with the Hus^bandmeu 
coming of the King. The last was a parable ( f the compared. 
Old Testament history; even Christ himself appears there rather as 


the last and greatest of the line of its prophets and teachers than as 
the founder of a new kingdom. In that, a parable of the law, God 
appears demanding something from men ; in this, a parable of 
grace, God appears more as giving something to them. There he 
is displeased that his demands are not complied with, here that his 
goodness is not accepted; there he requires, here he imparts. And 
thus, as we so often find, the two mutually complete one another; 
this taking up the matter where the other left it." ' The great 
purpose in both parables was to make conspicuous the shameful 
character and conduct of those who were under great obligation to 
show all possible respect and loyalty. The conduct of the hus- 
bandmen was atrocious in the extreme; but it may be said that a 
claim of rent was demanded of them, and there was some supposa- 
ble motive to treat the messengers of the owner of the vinevard 
with disrespect. Not so, however, Avith those bidden to the royal 
marriage feast. That guests, honoured by an invitation from the 
king to attend the marriage of his son, should have treated such in- 
vitation with wilful refusal and contempt, and even have gone to 
the extreme of abusing the royal servants who came to bid them to 
the marriage, and of putting some to death, seems hardly conceiv- 
able. But this very feature which seems so improbable in itself is 
a prominent part of the parable, and designed to set in the most 
odious light the conduct of those chief priests and Pharisees who 
were treating the Son of God with open contempt, and would fain 
have put him to death. Such ingratitude and disloyalty deserved 
no less a punishment than the sending forth of armies to destroy 
the murderers and to bi;rn their city (verse V). 

When now we compare the parable of the marriage of the king's 
Parables of Mar- ^^^^ with that of the great supper (Luke xiv, 10) we 
riage of King's fin(j they botli agree (1) in having a festival as the 
Supper com- basis of their imagery, (2) in that invitations were sent 
pared. ^^ persons already bidden, (3) in the disrespect shown 

by those bidden, and (4) the calling in of the poor and neglected 
from the streets and highways. But they differ in the following 
particulars: The paral^le of the great supper was spoken at an 
earlier period of our Lord's ministry, when the opposition of chief 
priests, scribes, and Pharisees was as yet not violent. It was 
uttered in the house of a Pharisee whither he had been invited to 
eat bread (verses 1, 12), and where there appeared in his presence 
a dropsical man, whose malady he healed. Thereupon he addressed 
a parable to those who were bidden, counselling them not to recline 
on the chief seat at table unless invited there (verses 7-11). He 

' Notes on the Parables, p. ISO. 


also uttered a proverbial injunction to the Pharisee who had in- 
vited him to make a feast for the poor and the maimed i-ather than 
kinsmen and rich friends (verses 12-14); and then he added the 
parable of the great supper. But the parable of the marriage of 
the king's son was uttered at a later period, and in the temple, 
when no Pharisee would have invited him to his table, and when 
the hatred of chief priests and scribes had become so bitter that it 
gave occasion for ominous and fearful words, such as that parable 
contained. We note further that, in the earlier parable, the occa- 
sion was a great supper {delnvov), in the latter a wedding (yd^o^). 
In the one, the person making the feast is simply "a certain man" 
(Luke xiv, 16), in the other he is a king. In the one the guests all 
make excuse, in the other they treat the royal invitation with con- 
tempt and violence. In the one those who were bidden are simply 
denounced with the statement that none of them shall taste of the 
supper; in the other the king's armies are sent forth to destroy the 
murderers of his servants and to burn their city. In the earlier 
parable there are two sendings forth to call in guests, first from the 
streets and lanes of the city, and next from the highways and 
hedges — intimating first the going unto the lost sheep of the house 
of Israel (Matt, x, 6; xv, 24), and afterward to the Gentiles (Acts 
xiii, 46) ; in the latter only one outgoing call is indicated, and that 
one subsequent to the destruction of the murderers and their city. 
In that later prophetic moment Jesus contemplated the ingather- 
ing of the Gentiles. Then to the later parable is added the inci- 
dent of the guest who appeared without the wedding garment 
(Matt, xxii, 11-14), which Strauss characteristically conjectures to 
be the fragment of another parable' wliich Matthew by mistake at- 
tached to this, because of its referring to a feast.' But Avith a 
purer and profounder insight Trench sees in these few added words 
" a wonderful example of the love and wisdom which marked 
the teaching of our Lord. For how fitting was it in a discourse 
which set forth how sinners of every degree were invited to a fel- 
lowship in the blessings of the Gospel, that they should be reminded 
likewise, that for the lasting enjoyment of these, they must put off 
their former conversation — a most needful caution, lest any should 
abuse the grace of God, and forget that while as regarded the past 
they were freely called, they were yet now called unto holiness,'"' 

The parable of the barren fig-tree (Luke xiii, 6-9) had its special 
application in the cutting off of Israel, but it is not ^be barren 
necessarily limited to that one event. It has lessons of Fig-t:ec. 
universal application, illustrating the forbearance and longsuffering 
'Life of Jesus, § 78. ^Isotes on the Parables, pp. 179, ISO. 


of God, as also the certainty of destructive judgment upon every one 
who not only produces no good fruit, but " also cumbers the ground " 
(Kai rrjv yqv Karapyel). Its historical occasion a])pears from the 
preceding context, (verses 1-5), but the logical connexion is not so 
apparent. It is to be traced, however, to the character of those in- 
formants who told him of Pilate's outrage on the Galileans. For 
the twice-repeated warning, " Except ye repent ye shall all likewise 
perish" (verses 3 and 5), implies that the persons addressed were 
sinners deserving fearful penalty. They were probably from Je- 
rusalem, and representatives of the Pharisaic party who had little 
respect for the Galileans, and perhaps intended their tidings to be 
a sort of gibe against Jesus and his Galilean followers. 

The means for understanding the occasion and import of Nathan's 
Old Testament parable (2 Sam. xii, 1-4) are abundantly furnished in 
parables. the context. The same is true of the parable of the 

wise woman of Tekoah (2 Sam. xiv, 4-7), and that of the wounded 
prophet in 1 Kings xx, 38-40. The narrative, in Eccles. ix, 14, 15, 
of the little city besieged by a great king, but delivered by the wis- 
dom of a poor wise man, has been regarded by some as an actual 
history. Those who date the Book of Ecclesiastes under the 
Persian domination think that allusion is made to the delivery of 
Athens by Themistocles, when that city was besieged by Xerxes, 
the great king of Persia. Others have suggested the deliverance 
of Potidfea (Herod., viii, 128), or Tripolis (Diodor., xvi, 41). Hitzig 
even refers it to the little seaport Dora besieged by Antiochus the 
Great (Polybius, v, 66). But in none of these last three cases is it 
known that the deliverance was eif ected by a poor wise man ; and 
as for Athens, it could hardly have been called a little city, with 
few men in it, nor could the brilliant leader of the Greeks be prop- 
erly called " a poor wise man." It is far better to take the narra- 
tive as a parable, which may or may not have had its basis in some 
real incident of the kind, but M'hieh Avas designed to illustrate the 
great value of wisdom. The author makes his own application in 
verse 16: "Then sand I, Better is wisdom than strength; yet the 
wisdom of the poor is despised, and his words — none of them are 
heard." That is, such is the general rule. A case of exceptional 
extremity, like the siege referred to, may for a moment exhibit the 
value of wisdom, and its superiority over strength and weapons of 
war ; but the lesson is soon forgotten, and the masses of men give 
no heed to the words of the poor, whatever their wisdom and worth. 
The two verses that follow (17 and 18) are an additional comment 
upon the lesson taught in the parable, and put its real meaning be- 
yond all reasonable doubt. But it is a misuse of the parable, and a 


pressing of its import beyond legitimate bounds, to say, with Heng- 
stenberg : " The poor man with his delivering wisdom is an image 
of Israel. , . . Israel would have proved a salt to the heathen world 
if ear had only been given to the voice of wisdom dwelling in his 
midst." * Still more unsound is the spiritualizing process by which 
the besieged city is made to represent "the life of the individual: 
the great king who lays siege to it is death and the judgment of 
the Lord. "^ 

All the parables of our Lord are contained in the first three 
Gospels. Those of the door, the good shepherd, and .„, 

^ . ° r J AllJesus para- 

the vine, recorded by John, are not parables proper, bies in the sy- 
but allegories. In most instances we find in the imme- ^^^""^ Gospels. 
diate context a clue to the correct interpretation. Thus the para- 
ble of the unmerciful servant (Matt, xviii, 23-34) has its occasion 
stated in verses 21 and 22, and its application in verse 35. The par- 
able of the rich man who planned to pull down his barns and build 
greater in order to treasure up all the increase of his fields (Luke 
xii, 16-20), is readily seen from the context to have been uttered 
as a warning against covetousness. The parable of the importunate 
friend at midnight (Luke xi, 5-8) is but a part of a discourse on 
prayer. The parables of the unjust judge and the importunate 
widow, and of the Pharisee and the publican at prayer (Luke xviii, 
1-14), have their purpose stated by the evangelist who records them. 
The parable of the good Samaritan (Luke x, 30-37) was called forth 
by the question of the lawyer, who desired to justify himself, and 
asked, "Who is my neighbour?" 

The parable of the labourers in the vineyard (Matt, xx, 1-16), 
althous^h its occasion and application are given in the „ ^, , ,^ 

^ 1 1 _ _ " , Parable of the 

context, has been regarded as difficult of interpretation. Labourers in 
It was occasioned by the mercenary spirit of Peter's ' ^ i^^eyar . 
question (in chap, xix, 27), "What then shall we have?" and its 
principal aim is evidently to rebuke and condemn that spirit. But 
the diificulties of interpreters have arisen chiefly from giving undue 
prominence to the minor points of the parable, as the penny a day, 
and the different hours at which the labourers were hired. Stier 
insists that the penny (67]vdpLov), or day's wages ([uodog), is the 
principal question and main feature of the parable. Others make 
the several hours mentioned represent different periods of life at 
which men are called into the kingdom of God, as childhood, youth, 
manhood, and old age. Others have supposed that the Jews were 
denoted by those first hired, and the Gentiles by those who were 

' Commentary on Ecclesiastes, in loco. 

* Wangemann, as quoted by Delitzsch, in loco. 


called last. Origen held that the different hours represented the 
dilTerent epochs of human history, as the time before the flood, 
from Abraham to Moses, from Moses to Christ, etc. But all this 
tends to divert the mind from the great thought in the purpose of 
the parable, namely, to condemn the mercenary spirit, and indicate 
that the rewards of heaven are matters of grace and not of debt. 
And we should make very emphatic the observation of Bengel, 
tlmt the parable is not so much a prediction as a warning.' The 
fundamental fallacy of those exegetes who make the penny the 
most prominent point, is their tacit assumption that the narrative 
Mistakes of in- ^f the parable is designed to portray a murmuring and 
terpreters. fault finding whicli will actually take place at the last 
day. Unless we assume this, according to Stier, " no reality would 
con-espond with the principal point of the figurative narration."'' 
Accordingly, the vnaye, go thy loay (verse 14), is understood, like 
the TTopeveo^e, depart (of Matt, xxv, 41), as an angry rejection and 
banishment from God; and the apot' to oov, take tliine own, "can 
mean nothing else than what, at another stage, Abraham says to 
the rich man (Luke xvi, 25) : What thou hast contracted for, with 
that thou art discharged ; but now, away from my service and from 
all further intercourse with me!"" So also Luther says that "the 
murmuring labourers go away with their penny and are damned." 
But the word vndjo) has been already twice used in this parable 
(verses 4 and V) in the sense of going away into the vineyard to 
work, and it seems altogether too violent a change to put on it here 
the sense of going into damnation. Still less supposable is such a 
sense of the word wlieu addressed to those who had filled an hon- 
ourable contract, laboured faithfully in the vineyard, and "borne 
the burden of the day and the burning heat" (verse 12). 

Let us now carefully apply the three principles of interpretation 
enunciated above ^ to the exposition of this intricate parable. First, 
Occasion and ^^^^ histoi'ical occasion and scope. Jesus had said to the 
scope. young man who had great possessions : " If thou wouldst 

be perfect, go (vTraye), sell thy possessions and give to the poor, and 
thou shalt have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me" (Matt, 
xix, 21). The young man went away sorrowful, for he had many 
goods (KTiJiiara rroXXd), and Jesus thereupon spoke of the difliculty 
of a rich man entering into the kingdom of heaven (verses 23-26). 
"Then answered Peter and said to him, Lo, we forsook all things 
and followed thee: what then shall we have?" Ti dpa eorai ijijlv ; 
what theyi shall be to usf — that is, in the way of compensation and 

' Non est praedictio sed admonitia. Gnomon, in loco. 

" Words of the Lord .Tosus, in loco. « ■« Sec above, pp. 281, 282. 


reward. What shall be our Srjaavpdg ev ovpavolg, treasure in heaven? 
This question, not reprehensible in itself, breathed a bad spirit of 
overweening confidence and self-esteem, by its evident comparison 
with the young man : We have done all that you demand of him ; 
we forsook our all ; what treasure shall be ours in heaven? Jesus 
did not at once rebuke what was bad in the question, but, first, 
graciously responded to what was good in it, Tliese disciples, who 
did truly leave all and follow him, shall not go without blissful re- 
ward. " Verily, I say unto you that ye, who followed me, in the 
regeneration, when the Son of man shall sit upon the throne of his 
glory, ye also shall sit upon twelve thrones, judging the twelve 
tribes of Israel." This was, virtually, making to them a promise 
and pledge of what they should have in the future, but he adds: 
"And every one who forsook houses, or brothers, or sisters, or 
father, or mother, or children, or lands for my name's sake, shall 
receive manifold more,' and shall inherit life eternal." Here is a 
common inheritance and blessing promised to all who meet the 
conditions named. But in addition to this great reward, which is 
common alike to all, there will be distinctions and differences ; and 
so it is immediately added: "But many first will be last and last 
first." And from this last statement the parable immediately pro- 
ceeds : " For (yap) the kingdom of heaven is like," etc. This con- 
nexion Stier recognizes : " Because Peter has inquired after reward 
and compensation, Christ says, first of all, what is contained in 
verses 28, 29; but because he has asked with a culpable eagerness 
for reward, the parable concerning the first and the last follows 
with its earnest warning and rebuke." ' But to say, in the face of 
such a connexion and context, that the reward contemplated in the 
penny has no reference to eternal life, but is to be understood sole- 
ly of temporal good which may lead to damnation, is virtually to 
ignore and defy the context, and bring in a strange and foreign 
thought. The scope of the parable is no doubt to admonish Peter 
and the rest against the mercenary spirit and self-conceit apparent 
in his question, but it concludes, as Meyer observes, " and that very 
appropriately, with language which no doiibt allows the apostles to 
contemplate the prospect of receiving rewards of a peculiarly dis- 
tinguished character (xix, 28), but does not warrant the absolute 
certainty of it, nor does it recognize the existence of any thing like 
so-called valid claims."^ 

' ^n7\m^'Xaaiova is the reading of two most ancient codices, B and L, a number 
of versions, as Syriac and Sahidic, and is adopted by Laclimann, Alford, Tischendorf, 
Tregelles, and Wcstcott and Hort. Comp. Lulie xviii, 30. 

2 Words of the Lord Jesus, in loco. ^ Commentary on Matt, xx, 16. 


Having ascertained the historical occasion and scope, the next 

step is to analyze the subject matter, and note what appears to 

liave special prominence. It will hardly be disputed 

Prominent ^ .^ 11,1-, 

points in the that the particular agreement 01 the householder with 
parables. ^^iq labourers hired early in the morning is one point 

too prominent to be ignored in the exposition. Noticeable also is 
the fact that the second class (hired at the third hour) go to work 
without any special bargain, and rely on the word " whatsoever is 
right I will give you." So also with those called at the sixth and 
ninth hours. But those called at the eleventh hour received (ac- 
cording to the true text of verse 7) no special promise at all, and 
nothing is said to them about reward. They had been waiting and 
seem to have been anxious for a call to work, and were idle because 
no one had hired them, but as soon as an order came they went off 
to their labour, not stopping so much as to speak or hear about 
wages. In all this it does not appear that the different hours have 
any special significance; but we are rather to note the spii'it and 
disjwsidon of the different labourers, particularly the first and the 
last hired. In the account of the settlement at the close of the day, 
only these last and the first are mentioned with any degree of 
prominence. The last are the first rewarded, and with such marks 
of favour that the self-conceit and mercenary spirit of those who, 
in the early morning, had made a special bargain for a penny a 
day, are shown in words of fault finding, and elicit the rebuke of 
the householder and the declaration of his absolute right to do what 
he Avill with his own. 

If now we interpret these several parts with strict reference to 
The parable the occasion and scope of the parable, we must think 
primarily an j^£ ^^le apostles as those for whom its admonition 

admonition for i ^ 

the disciples. Avas first of all intended. What was wrong in the 
spirit of Peter's question called for timely i-ebuke and admoni- 
tion. Jesus gives him and the others assurance that no man who 
becomes his disciple shall fail of glorious reward; and, somewhat 
after the styb of the agreement with the labourers first hired, he 
bargains with the twelve, and agrees that every one of them shall 
have a throne. But, he adds (for such is the simplest application 
of the proverb, " Many first shall be last," etc.) : Do not imagine, 
in vain self-conceit, that, because you were the first to leave all and 
follow me, you therefore must needs be honoured more than others 
who may hereafter enter my service. That is not the noblest spir- 
it which asks, W/u/t shall I have F It is better to ask. What shall 
I do? He who follows Christ, and makes all manner of sacrifices 
for his sake, confident that it Avill be well, is nobler than he who 


lingers to make a bargain. Nay, he who goes into the Lord's 
vineyard asking no questions, and not even waiting to talk about 
the wages, is nobler and better still. His spirit and labour, though 
it continue but as an hour, may have qualities so beautiful and 
rare as to lead Him, whose heavenly rewards are gifts of grace, and 
not payments of debts, to place him on a more conspicuous throne 
than that which any one of the apostles may attain. The mur- 
muring, and the response which it draws from the householder, are 
not to be taken as a prophecy of what may be expected to take 
place at the final judgment, but rather as a suggestive hint and 
warning for Peter and the rest to examine the sj^irit in which they 
followed J esus. 

If this be the real import of the parable, how misleading are 
those expositions which would make the penny a day the most 
prominent point. How unnecessary and irrelevant to regard the 
words of the householder (in verses 13-16) as equivalent to the final 
sentence of damnation, or to attach special significance to the stand- 
ing idle. How unimportant the different hours at which the la- 
bourers were hired, or the question whether the householder be God 
or Christ. The interpretation which aims to maintain the unity of 
the whole narrative, and make i^rominent the great central truth, 
will see in this jDarable a tender admonition and a suggestive warn- 
ing against the wrong spirit evinced in Peter's words.' 

The parable of the unjust steward (Luke xvi, 1-13) has been re- 
garded, as above all others, a crux interpretum. It parabie of the 
appears to have no such historical or logical connexion unjust steward. 
Avith what precedes as will serve in any material "w^ay to help in its 
interpretation. It follows immediately after the three parables of 
the lost sheep, the lost drachma, and the prodigal son, which were 
addressed to the Pharisees and the scribes who murmured because 
Jesus received sinners and ate with them (chap, xv, 2). Having 
uttered those parables for their special benefit, he spoke one " also 
to the disciples " [Kai ngog rovg fiaT^rjrdg, xvi, 1 ). These disciples 
are probably to be understood of that wider circle which included 
others besides the twelve (compare Luke x, 1), and among them 
were doubtless many publicans like Matthew and Zacchaius, A\'ho 
needed the special lesson here enjoined. That lesson is now 
quite generally acknowledged to be a wise and prudent use of 
this workPs goods. For the sagacity, shrewd foresight, and care to 

' The words, " For many are called, but few chosen," which appear in some ancient 
codices (C, D, N), at the close of verse 16, are wanting in the oldest and best manu- 
scripts (X, B, L, Z), and are rejected by the best textual critics (Tischendorf, Tregelles, 
Westcott and Hort). We have, therefore, taken no notice of them above. 

298 principl;es of 

shift for himself, which the steward evinced in his hasty action 
with his lord's debtors {(ppovifxcjg knoirjaev, ver. 8), are emphatically 
the tertium comjmrationis, and are said to have been applauded 
{k-ni^veoev) even by his master. 

The parable first of all demands that we apprehend correctly the 
., ,, literal import of its narrative, and avoid the readinc: or 

Unauthorized .... . '^ 

additions to tiie imagining in it any thing that is not really there, 
parable. Thus, for example, it is said the steward was accused 

of wasting the rich man's goods, and it is nowhere intimated that 
this accusation was a slander. We have, therefore, no right (as 
Koster) to assume that it was. Neither is there any warrant for 
saying (as Van Oosterzee and others) that the steward had been 
guilty of exacting excessive and exorbitant claims of his lord's 
debtors, remitting only what was equitable to his lord, and wasting 
the rest on himself; and that his haste to have them write down 
their bills to a lower amount was simply, on his part, an act of jus- 
tice toward them and an effort to repair his former wrongs. If 
such had been the fact he would not have wasted his lord's goods 
{ja vndpxovra avrov), but those of the debtors. Nor is there any 
ground to assume that the steward made restitution from his own 
funds (Brauns), or, that his lord, after commending his prudence, re- 
tained him in his service (Bauragarten-Crusius). All this is putting 
into the narrative of our Lord what he did not see fit to put there. 
We are to notice, further, that Jesus himself ap])lies the parable to 
Jesus' own ap- the disciples by his words of counsel and exhortation in 
plication. vcrse 9, and makes additional comments on it in verses 

10-13. These comments of the author of the parable are to be 
carefully studied as containing the best clue to his meaning. The 
main lesson is given in verse 9, where the disciples are urged to 
imitate the prudence and wisdom of the unjust steward in making 
to themselves friends out of unrighteous mammon (tTC rov, k. t. A., 
from the resources and opportunities afforded by the wealth, or the 
worldly goods, in their control). The steward exhibited in his 
shrewd plan the quick sagacity of a child of the world, and knew 
well how to inLjratiate himself with the men of his own kind and 
generation. In this respect it is said the children of this age are 
wiser than the children of the light; ' therefore, our Lord would say, 

' The latter part of verse 8 is, literally, " Because the sons of this age are wiser than 
the sons of the light in reference to their own generation." Not in their generation, 
as Authorized Version, l)ut e'l^ tt/v yeveuv tijv kavTU)v, for their generation, as regards, 
or in relation to, their own generation. "The whole body of the children of the world 
— a category of liUe-niinded men — is described as a generation, a clan of connexions, 
and how appropriately, since they appear precisely as vioi, sons." — Meyer. "The 
ready accomplices in the steward's fraud showed themselves to be men of the same 


emulate and imitate them in this particular. Similarly, on another 
occasion, he had enjoined upon his disciples, when they were sent 
forth into the hostile world, to be wise as serpents and harmless as 
doves (Matt, x, 16). 

So fai' ail is tolerably clear and certain, but when we inquire 
Who is the rich man (in verse 1), and who are the friends who re- 
ceive into the eternal tabernacles (verse 9), we find great diversity 
of opinion among the best interpreters. Usually the rich man has 
been understood of God, as the possessor of all things, who uses us 
as his stewards of whatever goods are entrusted to our care. 
Olshausen, on the other hand, takes the rich man to be the devil, 
considered as the prince of this world. Meyer explains the rich 
man as Mammon, and urges that verses 9 and 13 especially require 
this view. It will be seen that the adoption of either one of these 
views will materially effect our exegesis of the whole parable. 
Here, then, especially, we need to make a most careful use of the 
second and third hermeneutical rules afore mentioned, and observe 
the nature and properties of the things employed as imagery, and 
interpret them with strict reference to the great central thought 
and to the general scope and design of the whole. Our choice 
would seem to lie between the common view and that of Meyer; 
for Olshausen's explanation, so far as it differs essentially from 
Meyer's, has nothing in the text to make it even plausible; and the 
other views (as of Schleiermacher, who makes the rich man repre- 
sent the Romans, and Grossmann, who understands the Roman 
emperor) have still less in their favour. The common exposition, 
which takes the rich man to be God, may be accepted and main- 
tained without serious difficulty. The details of the parable are 
then to be explained as incidental, designed merely to exhibit the 
shrewdness of the unjust steward, and no other analogies are to be 
pressed. The disciples are urged to be discreet and faithful to God 
in their use of the unrighteous mammon, and thereby secure the 
friendship of God, Christ, angels, and their fellow men,^ who may 

generation as he was — they were all of one race, children of the ungodly world." — 
Trench. There is no sufficient reason to supply the thought, or refer the phrase, 
their own generation, to the sons of light (as De Wette, Olshausen, Trench, and many). 
If that were the thought another construction could easily have been adopted to ex- 
press it clearly. As it stands, it means that the children of light do not, in general, 
in relation to themselves or others, evince the prudence and sagacity which the chil- 
dren of the world know so well how to use in their relations to their own race of 

* Some, however, who adopt this exposition in general, will not allow that God or 
tlie angels are to be understood by the friends, inasmuch as such reference would not 
accord strictly with the analogy of the parable. 


all be thereby disposed to receive them, when the goods of this 
world fail, into the eternal habitations. 

But the interpretation which makes the rich man to be Mammon, 
The rich man gives a special point and force to several noticeable 
stood^as^Mam- I'emarks of Jesus, maintains a self-consistency within 
mon. itself, and also enforces the same great central thought 

as truly as the other exposition. It contemplates the disciples as 
about to be put out of the stewardship of Mammon, and admonishes 
them to consider how the world loves its own, and knows how to 
calculate and plan wisely {(ppoviiJ.(og) for personal and selfish ends. 
Such shrewdness as that displayed by the unjust steward calls forth 
the applause of even Mammon himself, who is defrauded by the 
act. But, Jesus says, " Ye cannot serve God and Mammon." Ye 
must, in the nature of things, be unfaithful to the one or the other. 
If ye are true and faithful to the unrighteous lord Mammon, ye 
cannot be sons of the light and friends of God. If, on the other 
hand, ye are unfaithful to Mammon, he and all his adherents will 
accuse you, and ye will be put out of his service. What will ye 
do? If ye would secure a place in the kingdom of God, if ye 
would make friends now, while the goods of unrighteous Mammon 
are at your control — friends to receive and welcome you to the 
eternal dwellings of light — ye must imitate the prudent foresight 
of the unjust steward, and be unfaithful to Mammon in order to 
be faithful servants of God.* 

The scope and purport of the parable, as evidenced by the com- 
Geikie's com- ments of Jesus (in verses 9-13), is thus set forth by 
™®°*^- Geikio: "By becoming my disciples you have identi- 

fied yourselves with the interest of another master than oMammon, 
the god of this world — whom you have hitherto served — and have 
before you another course and aim in life. You will be represented 
to your former master as no longer faithful to him, for my service 
is so utterly opposed to that of Mammon, that, if faithful to me, 
you cannot be faithful to him, and he will, in consequence, assured- 
ly take your stewardship of this world's goods away from you — 
that is, sink you in poverty, as T have often said. I counsel you, 
therefore, so to use the goods of Mammon — the wordly means still 
at your command — that^by a truly worthy distribution of them to 

' Meyer remarks : " This circumstance, that Jesus sets before his disciples the pru- 
dence ol a dishonest pi'oceediug as an example, would not have been the occasion of 
such unspeakable misrepresentations and such unrifihteous judfjments if the princi- 
jjle, Ye cannot serve God and Mammon, (verse I-',), liad been kept in view, and it had 
been considered accordingly that even the disciples, in fact, by beneficent application 
of tlieir property, must have acted unfaithfully toward Maininou in order to be faith- 
ful toward their contrasted master, toward God." — Commentary, in loco. 


your needy brethren — and my disciples are mostly poor — you may 
make friends for yourselves, who, if they die before you, will wel- 
come you to everlasting habitations in heaven, when you pass thith- 
er, at death. Fit yourselves, by labours of love and deeds of true 
charity, as my followers, to become fellow citizens of the heavenly 
mansions with those whose wants you have relieved while they 
were still in life. If jon be faithful thus, in the use of your pos- 
sessions on earth, you will be deemed worthy by God to be en- 
trusted with infinitely greater riches hereafter. ... Be assured 
that if you do not use your earthly riches faithfully for God, by 
dispensing them as I have told you, you will never enter my heav- 
enly kingdom at all. You will have shown that you are servants 
of Mammon, and not the servants of God; for it is impossible for 
any man to serve two masters." ' 

There is a deep inner connexion between the parable of the un- 
just steward and that of the rich man and Lazarus, narrated in the 
same chapter (Luke xvi, 19-31). A wise faithfulness toward God 
in the use of the mammon of unrighteousness will make friends to 
receive us into eternal mansions. But he who allows himself, like 
the rich man, to become the pampered, luxury-loving man of the 
world — so true and faithful to the interests of Mammon that he 
himself becomes an impersonation and representative of the god of 
riches — will in the world to come lift up his eyes in torments, and 
learn there, too late, how he might have made the angels and Abra- 
ham and Lazarus friends to receive him to the banquets of the 
paradise of God. 

It is interesting and profitable to study the relation of the par- 
ables to each other, where there is a manifest logical connexion. 
This we noticed in the seven parables recorded in Matt. xiii. It is 
more conspicuous in Luke xv, where the joy over the recovery of 
that which was lost is enhanced by the climax : (1) a lost sheep, and 
one of a hundred ; (2) a lost drachma, and one out of ten ; (3) a lost 
child, and one out of two. The parables of the ten virgins and the 
talents in Matt, xxv, enjoin, (1) the duty of loatching for the com- 
ing of the Lord, and (2) the duty of working for him in his absence. 
But we have not space to trace the details. The principles and 
methods of interpreting parables, as illustrated in the foregoing- 
pages, will be found sufficient guides to the interpretation of all 
the scriptural parables. 

' Geikie, Life of Christ, chap. liii. 




An allegory is usually defined as an extended metaphor. It bears 
the same relation to the parable which the metaphor does 

Allegory to be , , ^ _ , ^ 

distinguished to the simile. In a parable there is either some formal 
romParabe. comparison introduced, as "The kingdom of heaven is 
like a grain of mustard seed," or else the imagery is so presented 
as to be kept distinct from the thing signified, and to require an 
explanation outside of itself, as in the case of the jDarable of the 
sower (Matt, xiii, 3, ff.). The allegory contains its interpretation 
within itself, and the thing signified is identified with the image; 
as " I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman " (John 
XV, 1); "Ye are the salt of the earth" (Matt, v, 13). The allegory 
is a figurative use and application of some supposable fact or his- 
tory, whereas the parable is itself such a supposable fact or history. 
The parable uses words in their literal sense, and its narrative never 
transgresses the limits of Avhat might have been actual fact. The 
allegory is continually using words in a metaphorical sense, and 
its narrative, however supposable in itself, is manifestly fictitious. 
Hence the meaning of the name, from the Greek dXXog, other, and 
ayoQEVio, to speak, to 2:>rodai)n/ that is, to say another thing from 
that which is meant, or, so to speak, that another sense is expressed 
than that which the words convey. It is a discourse in which the 
main subject is represented by some other subject to which it has a 

Some have objected to calling an allegory a continued metaphor." 

Who shall say, they ask, where the one ends and the 

AlIegoTT IS a J J J y 

continued Met- Other begins? But the very definition should answer 
^P ^^' this question. When the metaphor is confined to a 

single word or sentence it is improper to call it an allegory; just 
as it is improper to call a proverb a parable, although many a pro- 
verb is a condensed parable, and is sometimes loosely called so in 
the Scriptures (Matt, xv, 14, 15). But when it is extended into a 

' "The allegory," says C'remcr, "is a mode of exposition which does not, like the 
parable, hide and clothe the sense in order to give a clear idea of it; on the contrary, 
it clothes the sense in order to hide it." — Biblieo-Thcol. Lex. N. Tost., p. 96. 

' See Davidson's Ilermeneutics, p. 300, and llorue's Introduction, vol. ii, p. 338. 


narrative, and its imagery is drawn out in many details and analo- 
gies, yet so as to accord with the one leading figure, it would be 
improper to call it a metaphor. It is also affirmed by Davidson 
that in a metaphor there is only one meaning, while the allegory 
has two meanings, a literal and a figurative/ It will be seen, how- 
ever, on careful examination, that this statement is misleading. 
Except in the case of the mystic allegory of Gal. iv, 21-31, it will 
be found that the allegory, like the metaphor, has but one meaning. 
Take for example the following from Psalm Ixxx, 8-15 : 

8 A vine from Egypt thou hast torn away ; 
Thou hast cast out the lieathen, and planted it; 

9 Thou didst clear away before it, 
And it rooted its roots, 

• And it filled the land. 

10 Cove-red were the mountains with its shade, 
And its brandies are cedars of God. 

11 It sent out its boughs unto the sea. 
And unto the river its tender shoots. 

12 Whei'efore hast thou broken down its walls, 
And have plucked it all that pass over the road ? 

13 Swine from the forest are laying it waste, 
And creatures of the field are feeding on it. 

14 O God of hosts, return now. 
Look from heaven, and behold. 
And visit this vine ; 

15 And protect what thy right hand has planted, 
And upon the son thou madest strong for thyself. 

Surely no one would understand this allegory in a literal sense. 
No one supposes for a moment that God literally took a vine out of 
Egypt, or that it had an actual growth elsewhere as here described. 
The language throughout is metaphorical, but being thus continued 
under one leading figure of a vine, the whole passage becomes an 
allegory. The casting out of the heathen (verse 8) is a momentary 
departure from the figure, but it serves as a clue to the meaning of 
all the rest, and after verse 15 the writer leaves the figure entirely, 
but makes it clear that he identifies himself and Israel with the 

' Hermeneutics, p. 306. This writer also says : " The metaphor always asserts or 
imagines that one object is another. Thus, 'Judah is a lion's whelp' (Gen. xlix, 9); 
'I am the vine' (John xv, 1). On the contrary, allegory never affirms that one thing 
is another, which is in truth an absurdity." But the very passage he quotes from 
John XV, 1, as a metaphor, is also part of an allegory, which is continued through six 
verses, showing that allegory as well as metaphor may affirm that one thing is another. 
The literal meaning of the word allrffcry, as shown above, is the affirming one thing 
for iinotlier. 


vine. The same imagery is given in the form of a parable in Isa. 

y, 1-6, and the distinction between the two is seen in this, that the 

^leaning of the parable is given separately at the close (verse 7), 

/ but the meaning of the allegory is implied in the metaphorical use 

[ ijoi its words. 
' Having carefully distinguished between the parable and the alle- 
gory, and shown that the allegory is essentially an extended meta- 
phor, we need no separate and special rules for the interpretation 
of the allegorical portions of the Scriptures. The same 

/ Same herme- & i -i _ • <• 

neuticai prin- general principles that apply to the mterjjretation of 
AuSory S Jo metaphors and parables will apply to allegories. The 
Parable. great error to be guarded against is the effort to find 

^ "^ Mnute^'^analogies and hidden meanings in all the details of the 
imagery. Hence, as in the case of parables, we should first deter- 
mine the main thought intended by the figure, and thexLJIlterpret 
the minor points with constant reference to it. The context, the 
occasion, the circumstances, the application, and often the accom- 
panying explanation, are, in each case, such as to leave little doubt 
of the import of any of the allegories of the Bible. The following 
passage from Prov. v, 15-18 serves to exhibit what a variety of in- 
terpretations may attach to a single allegory: 

15 Drink waters from thine own cistern, 

And streams from the midst of thiae own well. 

16 Sliall thy fountains spread abroad 
Brooks of water in the streets? 

17 Let them l)e for thee, by thyself, 
And not for strangers with thee. 

18 Let thy spring be lilest, 

And have joy of the wife of thy youth. 

Our firs t ini^ui ry should be as to the main purpos e of the alle- 

7 goi'y- ^ clue to this is furnished in the words " wife 
Main purpose ot >=> •' n „ . . . » 

ihe allegory to of thy youth in vcrse 18, from Which we might infer, 
bougi . j£ ^^g |^,^^l nothing else to guide us, that by the cistern, 
well, etc., mentioned before, this wife is to be understood. But 
others have understood the well to mean the word of God as given 
in the Lavr (Jerome, Rashi), others true wisdom (C. B. Miehaelis), 
others one's own possessions in goods and estate (Junius, Cornelius 
a Lapide). In view of this variety of opinions, we need something 
more than the single allusion to the wife of one's youth in order to 
determine the application of the allegory. But when we further 
observe that the entire preceding part of the chapter is a warning 
against the strange woman, and the subsequent part continues in 
the same vein, it becomes very evident that the allegory of verses 


15-18 is designed to enjoin and extol connubial fidelity and love, as 
against illicit intercourse. This is made more certain by the lan- 
guage of verse 19, immediately following, in which the figure 
changes, and the youthful wife is called " a lovely hind and a grace- 
ful roe," which metaphor serves as an elegant transition to further 
warning against the evil woman. The great majority of inter- 
preters, therefore, ancient and modern, have adopted this view. 
Hence we observe the importance of consulting the context in order 
to determine the main purpose of an allegory. 

But having determined the main point we proceed to particulars, 
and first inquire what fitness there is in comparing a particular ai- 
wife to a fountain of waters. Umbreit answers : " The lusions to be 

.J.. .,1 T-,1 r . • . Studied In the 

Wile IS appropriately compared witli a fountain, not ught of mam 
merely inasmuch as offsjfring are born of her, but also Pun)ose. 
because she satisfies the desire of the man. In connexion with this 
we must call to mind, in oi'der to feel the full power of the figure, 
how in antiquity, and especially in the East, the possession of a 
spring was regarded as a great and even sacred thing." ' This be- 
ing accepted, we next observe that there are five different Hebrew 
w^ords here vised for a water source, which we have translated re- 
spectively by cistern, well, fountain, brook, and spring. Any at- 
tempt to find in each of these words a special metaphorical allusion 
would be pressing particulars too far, and would lead to confusion 
and folly. Familiarity with the usages of Hebrew parallelism ^ will 
show that these different but synonymous terms are used for the 
sake of variety and rhetorical effect, and are not to be pressed in 
the interpretation. The meaning of the first couplet (verse 15), 
therefore, is : Be content with the waters that are thine own ; find 
thy delight and satisfaction in them, and go not abroad to meddle 
with the wells and cisterns of other people. That is, as the context 
has shown, be satisfied and happy with thy own lawful wife, as with 
a precious living fountain of thine own possession, and go not in the 
way of the strange woman. 

Verse 16 has been translated variously; (1) afl[irmatively: "thy 
fountains shall spread abroad;" (2) imperatively: "let thy foun- 
tains spread abroad;" (3) interrogatively, as in our version above. 
Some, without any authority, have inserted the negative particle, 
and rendered, " thy fountains shall not be spread abroad " (Ewald, 
Bertheau, Stuart). This bold effort to amend the text was evi- 
dently prompted by the feeling that the aflfirmative and imperative 
renderings (1 and 2 above) made the author contradict himself. 
For he has just said, Drink of thine own well, and in verse 17 he 
' Commentar iiber die Spruche, in loco. * Compare above, pp. 95-99. 



adds, Let thy fountains be for thyself alone, and not for strangers 
also. How could he then say that these fountains should spread 
and become rivulets in the streets ? Many of the older interpret- 
ers, taking the sentence aflBrmatively or imperatively, understood, 
the fountains spreading abroad and becoming brooks in the streets 
as indicating a numerous progeny that should go forth and be hon- 
oured in public life. Comp. Num. xxiv, 7; Psa. Ixviii, 26; Isa. 
xlviii, 1; li, 1. But this conception of the passage would seriously 
confuse the figure, break its unity, and be impossible to harmonize 
naturally with verse 17. All this difficulty is avoided by adopting^ 
the interrogative form of translation: ''Shall thy fountains spread 
abroad, (and become) brooks of water in the streets?" Wouldst 
thou have thy wife go abroad as a public harlot ? Nay, (but as 
verse 17 adds) let her be for thyself alone, and not for sirangers 
Avith thee. In these last two verses (16 and 17), however, some 
give the thought a more general turn, as: "Shall the fountains at 
which thou drinkest be such as are common to all in the street y " 
But it gives greater unity to the entire allegory to keep in mind 
the one particular wife definitely referred to at the close (verse 18), 
and suppose the question to imply that as one would not have 
his own wife become a harlot of the street, so he should keep him- 
self only unto her as one that drinks of his own well. 

The allegory of old age, in Eccles. xii, 3-7, under the figure of a 
Allegory of old ^^^"^^ about to fall in ruins, has been variously inter- 
age in Eccles. preted. Some of the fathers (Gregorj'^ Thaumaturgus, 
^^''''" Cyril of Jerusalem) understood the whole passage as 

referring to the day of judgment as connected with the end of 
the Avorld. Accordingly, " the day " of verse 3 would be " the great 
and terrible day of the Lord" (Joel ii, 31; comp. Matt, xxiv, 2'J). 
Other expositors (L^mbreit, Elster, Ginsburg) regard the passage as 
describing the approach of death under the figure of a fearful 
tempest which strikes the inmates of a noble mansion with conster- 
nation and terror. But the great majority of expositors, ancient and 
modern, liave understood the passage as an allegorical descrijition 
of old age. And this view, we may safely say, is favoured and even 
required by the immediate context and by the imagery itself. But 
v»-e lose much of its point and force by understanding it of old ago 
generally. It is not a truthful portraiture of the peaceful, serene, 
honoured, and " good old age " so much extolled in the Old Testa- 
ment. It is not the picture presented to the mind in Prov. xvi, 31: 
"A crown of glory is the hoary head; in the way of righteousness 
will it be found;" nor that of Psa. xcii, 12-14, where it is declared 
that the righteous shall flourish like the palm, and grow great like 


the Lebanon cedars; "they shall still bear fruit in hoary aG;e' 
fresh and green shall they be." Comp. also Isa. xl, 30, 31, It re- 
mains for us, then, with Tayler Lewis, to understand that "the 
picture here given is the old age of the sensualist. This appears, 
too, from the connexion. It is the ' evil time,' the ' day of dark- 
ness' that has come upon the youth who was warned in the lan- 
guage above, made so much more impressive bv its 

7 f f .- • T. -IT ,, It is the old age 

tone of forecasting irony. It is the dreary old age of of tbe sensuai- 
the young man who xoould ' go on in every way of his *^*" 
heart and after every sight of his eyes,' Avho did not ' keep remorse 
from his soul nor evils from his flesh,' and now all these things are 
come upon him, with no such alleviations as often accompany the 
decline of life. Such also might be the inference from the words 
with which the verse begins: ' Remember thy Creator xohile the 
evil days come not.' It expresses this and more. There is a nega- 
tive prohibitory force in the N^ "iL'*n; ly: So remember Him that the 
evil days come not — implying a warning that such coming will be a 
consequence of the neglect. Piety in youth will prevent such a 
realizing of this sad picture; it will not keep off old age, but it will 
make it cheerful and tolerable instead of the utter ruin that is here 
depicted." ' 

Passing now to the particular figures used, we should exercise 
the greatest caution and care, for some of the allusions Doubtful aiiu- 
seem almost to be enigmatical. Barely to name the ^^"°^- 
different interpretations of the several parts of this allegory would 
require many pages.^ But the most judicious and careful interpret- 
ers are agreed that the " keepers of the house " (verse 3) are the 
arms and hands, which serve for protection and defence, but in de- 
crepit age become feeble and tremulous. The "strong men " are 
the legs, which, when they lose their muscular vigour, become 
bowed and crooked in supporting their wearisome load. " The 
grinders," or rather grindinr/ maids (nijnb fem. plural in allusion to 
the fact that grinding with hand mills was usually performed by 
women), are the teeth, which in age become few and cease to per- 
form their work. " Those that behold in the windows " are the 
eyes, which become dim with years. Beyond this point the inter- 
pretations become much more various and subtle. " The doors into 
the street " (verse 4) are generally explained of the mouth, the two 
lips .of which are conceived of as double doors (Heb. n)Ti7"n), or a 
door consisting of two sides or leaves. But it would seem better 
to understand these double doors of the two ears, which become 

' American edition of Lange's Commentary on Ecclesia?tes, pp. ITi'J, l.'SS. 
' See Poole's Synopsis, in loco. 


shut up or closed to outer sounds. So Hengstcnberg explains it, 
and is followed by Tayler Lewis, who observes: "The old sensual- 
ist, who had lived so much abroad and so little at home, is shut in 
at last. With no propriety could the mouth be called the street 
door, through which the master of the house goes abroad. ... It 
is rather the door to the interior, the cellar door, that leads down 
to the stored or consumed provision, the stomach." ' The " sound 
of the grinding" is by many referred to the noise of the teeth in 
masticating food; but this would be a return to what has been suf- 
ficiently noticed in verse 3. Better to understand this sound of the 
mill as equivalent to "the most familiar household sounds," as the 
sound of the mill really was. The thought then connects naturally 
with what precedes and follows; the ears are so shut up, the hear- 
ing has become so dull, that the most familiar sounds are but faint- 
ly heard,^ " and," he adds, " it rises to the sound of the sparrow ; " 
that is, as most recent critics explain, the "sound of the grinding" 
rises to that of a sparrow's shrill cry, and yet this old man's organs 
of hearing are so dull that he scarcely hears it. Others explain 
this last clause of the wakefulness of the old man: "he rises up at 
the voice of the spaiTow." Thus rendered, we need not, as many, 
understand it of rising or waking up early in the morning (in which 
case the Hebrew word liy rather than Dip should have been used), 
but of restlessness. Though dull of hearing, he will, nevertheless, 
at times start and rise up at the sound of a sparrow's shrill note. 
" The daughters of song " may be understood of the women singers 
(chap, ii, 8) who once ministered to his hilarity, but whose songs 
can now no longer charm him, and they are therefore humbled. 
; But it is, perhaps, better to understand the voice itself, the various 
tones qf Avhich become low and feeble (comp. the use of nni^ in Isa. 
xxix, 4). 

As we pass to verse 5 we note the peculiar nature of allegory to 
The allegory interweave its interpretation with its imagery. The 
InTwml'il"''?,.'!" figin"^^ of a house is for the time abandoned, and we 

I ii^^ vv nil lis liU- ^^ ' 

iiKery. read: "Also from a height they are afraid, and terrors 

are in the way, and the almond disgusts, and the locust becomes 
heavy, and the caperberry fails to produce effect; for going is the 

' Lange's Commentary on Ecclesiastes (Am. ed.), p. 155. 

^Tliere was liardly any part of the day or night when this work was not eoyig on 
with its ceaseless noise. It was, indeed, a sign that the senses were lailiiig in their 
office wiien tliis familiar, yet very peculiar, sound of the grinding bad ceased to arrest 
the attention, or hud become low and oljscinc — 

When the hum of th(^ mill is faiutly heard, 

And the daughters of sonK ;'.rc stiil. — Ibid., ]). 156. 


man to his everlasting house, and round about in the street pass the 
mourners." That is, looking down from that which is high, the tot- 
tering old man quickly becomes dizzy and is afraid; terrors seem 
to be continually in his path (comp. Pro v. xxii, 13; xxvi, 13); the 
almond is no longer pleasant to his' taste, but, on the contrary, dis- 
gusts;' and the locust, once with him perhaps a dainty article of 
food (Lev. xi, 22 ; Matt, iii, 4 ; Mark i, 6), becomes heavy and 
nauseating in his stomach, and the caperberry no longer serves its 
purpose of stimulating appetite. 

In verse 6 we meet again with other figures which have a nat- 
ural association with the lordly mansion. The end of life is repre- 
seiited as a removing (pni) or sundering of the silver cord and a 
breaking of the golden lampbowl. The idea is that of a golden lamp 
suspended by a silver cord in the palatial hall, and suddenly the bowl 
of the lamp is dashed to pieces by the breaking of the cord. The 
pitcher at the fountain and the wheel at the cistern are similar 
metaphors referring to the abundant machinery for drawing water 
which would be connected with the mansion of a sumptuous Dives. 
These at last give out, and the whole furniture and machinery of 
life fall into sudden ruin. The explaining of the silver cord as the 
spinal marrow, and the golden bowl as the brain, and tlie fountain 
and cistern as the right and left ventricles of the heart, seems too 
far fetched to be safe or satisfactory. Such minute and ramified 
explanations of particular figures are always likely to be overdone, 
and generally confuse rather than illustrate the main idea whicii 
the author had in mind. The words of verse 7 show that the met- 
aphors of verse 6 refer to the utter breaking down of the functions 
and processes of life. The pampered old body falls a pitiable ruin, 
in view of which Koheleth repeats his cry of "vanity of vanities." 

In the interj^retation of an allegory so rich in suggestions as . 
the above, the great hermeneutical principles to be Hgpmgjjgyti(.ai 
carefully adhered to are, first, to grasp the one^reat principles lo be 
idea^of_ the AvhoTe passage, and, second, to avoid the ^^^^"^ ' 

' r^^^N Hiphil of VSJ, and meaning to cause dixgtist, or is despised. The old ver- 
sions and most interpreters render shall flourish, deriving the form from ]*:iJ, and 
understand the silvery hair of the old man as resembling the almond-tree, which 
blossoms in winter, and its flowers, which at first are roseate in colour, become white 
like snowflakes before they fall off. But, aside from this doubtful derivation of the 
form •'X:'' (Stuart affirms that " ]'Xr for |'J> has no parallel in Hebrew orthogra- 
phy "), the immediate connexion is against the introduction of such an image as the 
silvery hair of age in this place. The 'loary head can only be thought of as a crown 
of glory — a beautiful sight ; but to introduce it between the mention of the old man's 
fears and terrors on the one side, and the disturbing locust on the other, would make 
a most unhappy confusion of images. 


temptation of seeking manifold meanings in the particular figures. 
Bv the minute search for some special significance in eveiy allusion 
the mind becomes wearied and overcrowded with the particular 
illustrations, so as to be likely to miss entirely the great thought 
which should be kept mainly in view. 

The work of the false prophets in Israel, and the ruin of both it 
Rnin of false ^"<^ them, are set forth allegorically in Ezek. xiii, 10-15. 
prophets aiie- The people are represented as building a wall, and the 
Ezek!^xiii, 10- prophets as plastering it over with ?Dri, a sort of coat- 
^^- ing or whiteAvash (comp. Matt, xxiii, 27; Acts xxiii, 3), 

desiorned to cover the worthless material of which the Mall is 
built, and also to hide its unsafe construction, Ewald observes 
that this word (^2ri) denotes elsewhere what is absurd intellect- 
ual! v, what is inconsistent with itself; here the mortar which does 
not hold together, clay without straw, or dry clay.' The mean- 
ing of these figures is very clear. The people built up vain hopes, 
and the false prophets covered them over with deceitful words and 
promises; they '"saw vanity and divined a lie" (verses 7 and 9). 
The ruin of wall and plastering and plasterers is announced by Je- 
hovah's oracle as fearfully effected by an overwhelming rain of 
judgment; the rain is accompanied by falling hailstones and a vio- 
lent rushing tempest; all these together hurl wall and plastering to 
the ground, expose the false foundations, and utterly destroy the 
lying prophets in the general ruin. Here we have, in the form of 
an allegory, or extended metaphor, the same image, substantially, 
Avhicli our Lord puts in the form of a simile at the close of the ser- 
mon on the mount (Matt, vii, 26, 27)." 

The much-disputed passage in 1 Cor. iii, 10-15, is an allegory. 
Allegory of 111 the preceding context Paul represents himself and 
wise and uu- ^pollos as the ministers through whom the Corinth- 

wiAQ master- l » 

i.uiiding. ians had believed. '- 1 planted, Apollos watered; 

:>at God gave the increase" (ver. 6). He shows his appreci- 
ation of the honour and responsibility of such ministry by saying 
(ver. n): "For we (apostles and ministers like Paul and Apollos) 

■Die Propheten des Alton Buiules, vol. ii, p. 399. Gottingen, 1868. 

-Tlie prophecies of Ezekiel abound in allegory. Chapter xvi contains an allcgor- 
Lvil liistory of Israel, representing, by way of narrative, prophecy, and promise, the 
past, present, and futnre relations of God and the chosen people, and maintaining 
t!r.-oughout the general figure of the marriage relation. Under like imagery, in chap- 
ter xxiii, the jjioplict depicts tlie idolatries of Samaria and Jerusalem. Compare also 
the similitudes of the vine wood and the vine in chapters xv and xix, 10-14, and the 
allegory of the lioness and her whelps in xix, 1-9. The allegorical history of As- 
syria, in chapter xxxi, may also be profitably compared and contrastcil with the enig- 
matical fable of chapter xvii. 


are God's fellow workers," and then he adds: "God's tilled field 
[yeojpyiov, in allusion to, and in harmony with, the platiting and 
watering mentioned above), God's building, are ye." Then drop- 
ping the former figure, and taking up that of a building {olnodojXTi), 
he proceeds: 

According to the grace of GotJ wliicli was e'iven unto me, as a wise ardi- 
itect, I laid a foundation, and another is building thereon. But let each 
man take heed how he buiUls thereon. For other foundation can no man 
lay than the one laid, which is Jesus Christ. But if any one builds on the 
foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; each mnn's 
work shall be made manifest, for the day will make it known, because in 
fire it is revealed, and each man's work, of what sort it is, the fire itself 
will prove. If any one's work shall endure wliich he built thereon, he 
iihall receive reward. If any one's work shall be burned, he shall suffer 
loss, but he himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire. 

The greatest trouble in explaining this passage has been to deter- 
mine what is meant by the " gold, silver, precious stones, 

Arc lDO II1B.lG— 

wood, hay, stubble," in verse 12. According to the rials persons or 
majority of commentators these materials denote doc- ^°^^^'^^^^- 
triiies supposed to be taught in the Church.^ Many others, how- 
ever, understand the character of the j^'^'^sons brought into the 
Church.^ But the most discerning among those who understand 
doctrines, do not deny that the doctrines are such as interpen- 
etrate and mould character and life; and those who understand 
persons are as ready to admit that the personal character of those 
referred to would be influenced and developed by the doctrines of 
their ministers. Probably in this, as in some other Scripture, 
where so many devout and critical minds have differed. Both views ai- 
the real exposition is to be found in a blending of botli lowabie. 
views. The Church, considered as God's building, is a frequent 
figure with Paul (comp. Eph. ii, 20-22; Col. ii, 7; also 1 Peter ii, 5), 
and in every case it is the Christian believer who is conceived as 
builded into the structure. So here Paul says to the Corinthians, 
" Ye are God's building,'' and it comports fully wnth this figure to 
understand that the material of which this building is to be con- 
structed consists of persons who accept Christ in faith. The 
Church is builded of persons, not of doctrines, bitt the persons are ' 
not brought to such use without doctrine. As in the case of Peter, 

' So Clemens Alexandrinus, Ambrosiaster, Lyra, Cajetan, Erasmus, Luther, Beza, Cal- 
vin, Piseator, Grotius, Estius, Calovius, Lightfoot, Stolz, Rosenniuller, Flatt, Heiden- 
reich, Xeunder, De Wette, Ewald, Meyer, Hodge, Alford, and Kling. 

*So, substantially, Origan, Chrysostom, Photius, Theodoret, Theophylact, Augustine, 
Jerome, Billroth, Beiigel, Pott, and Stanley. 



the stone (Matt, xvi, 18), the true material of which the abiding; 
Church is built, is not the doctrine of Christ, or the confession of 
Christ put forth by Peter, nor yet Peter considered as an individual 
man (nirpog), but both of these combined in jPeter confessing — a 
believer inspired of God and confessing Christ as the Son of the 
living God — thus making one new man, the ideal and representa- 
tive confessor (Trerpa),' so the material here contemplated consists of 
persons made and fashioned into various character through the in- 
strumentality of different ministers. These ministers are admon- 
ished that they may work into God's building " wood, hay, stul»ble," 
worthless and perishable stuff, as well as " gold, silver, precious 
stones." The material may be largely made what it is by the doc- 
\ trines taught, and other influences brought to bear on converts by 
the minister who is to build tliem into tlie house of God, but is it 
not clear that in such case the doctrines taught are -the tools of t] 

AvoiJtfiuuiu:ath£ll--Lhaji. the mate rial of which he jbuilds ? Neverthe- 
less, this process of building [k-noiKo6ofiEi) on the foundation ah'eady 
laid, like the work of Apollos in watering that which was planted 
by Paul (ver. G), is to be thought of chiefly in reference to the re- 
sponsibilitt/ of the ministers of the Gospel. The great caution is: 
" Let each man (whether Apollos or Cephas, or any other minister) 
take heed how he builds thereon" (ver. 10). Let him take heed to 
the doctrine he preaches, the morality he inculcates, the discipline 
he maintains, and, indeed, to every influence he exerts, which goes 
in any way to mould and fashion the life and character of tiiose 
who are builded into the Church. Tlie gold, silver, and precious 
stones, according to Alford, " refer to the matter of the minister's 
teaching, primarily, and by inference to those whom that teaching 
penetrates and builds up in Christ, who should be the living stones 
of the temple."' So also Meyer: "The various specimens of 
building materials, set side by side in vivid asyndeton, denote the 
various matters of doctrine propounded by teachers and brought 
into connexion with faith in Christ, in order to develop and com- 
plete the Christian training of the Church." ' These statements 
contain essential truth, but they are, as we conceive, misleading, in 
so far as they exalt matters of doctrine alone. We are rather to 
think of the whole administration and work of the minister in mak- 
ing converts and influencing their character and life. The mate- 
rials are rather the Churcli members, but considered primarily as 
made, or allowed to remain what they are by the agency of the 
V minister who builds the Church. 

' See on this subject above, pp. 228, 229. 2 Greek Testament, in loco. 

* Critical Commcntaiv on Corinthi.ins, in loco. 


Tlie great thoughts in the passage, then, wouhl be as follows: 
On the foundation of Jesus Christ, ministers, as fellow xtie passage 
workers with God, are engaged in building up God's paraphrased. 
house. But let each man take heed how he builds. On that 
foundation may be erected an edifice of sound and enduring sub- 
stance, as if it were built of gold, silver, and precious stones (as, for 
instance, costly marbles); the kind of Christians thus "builded to- 
gether for a habitation of God in the Spirit " (EjdIi. ii, 20) will con- 
stitute a noble and enduring structure, and his work will stand the 
fiery test of the last day. But on that same foundation a careless 
and unfaithful workman may build with unsafe material; he may 
tolerate and even foster jealousy, and strife (ver. 3), and pride 
(iv, 18); he may keep fornicators in the Church without sorrow or 
compunction (v, 1, 2); he may allow brother to go to law against 
brother (vi, 1), and permit drunken persons to come to the Lord's 
Supper (xi, 21) — all these, as well as heretics in doctrine (xv, 12), 
may be taken up and used as materials for building God's house.' 
In writing to the Corinthians the apostle had all these classes of 
persons in mind, and saw how they were becoming incorporated 
into that Church of his own planting. But he adds: The day of 
the Lord's judgment will bring every thing to light, and put to the 
test every man's work. The fiery revelation wall disclose what 
sort of work each one has been doing, and he that has builded wise- 
ly and soundly will obtain a glorious reward; but he that has 
brought, or sought to keep, the wood, hay, stubble, in the Church 
— he who has not rebuked jealousy, nor put down strife, nor ex- 
communicated fornicators, nor faithfully administered the discipline 
of the Church— shall see his life-work all consumed, and he himself 
shall barely escape with his life, as one that is saved by being has- 
tened through the fire of the burning building. His labour will all 
have been in vain, though he assumed to build on Christ, and did 
in fact minister in the holy place of his temple. 

It is to be especially ke])t in mind that this allegory is intended 
to serve rather_aa a warnina than to be understood as The aiiegrory a 

. , , , f ,1 T 1 " +1,^ warniiis? rather 

a prophecy. As the parable of the labourers m tne ^^^^ ^ y.x^v'^- 
vineyard (Matt, xix, 27-xx, 16) is spoken against Pe- ecy. 
ter's mercenary spirit, and thus serves as a warning and rebuke 
rather than as a prophecy of w-hat will actually take place in the 
judgment, so here Paul warns those who are fellow labourers with 
God to take heed how they build, lest they involve both themselves 
and others in irreparable loss. We are not to understand the wood, 

»In his parable of the tares and the wheat (Matt, xiii, 24-30, 37-43) Jesus himself 
taught that the good and the ovil would be mixed together in the Church. 


hay, stubble, as tlie prof ;uk' and ungodly, who have no faith in 
Christ. Nor do these words denote false, anti-Christian doc- 
trines. They denote rather the character and life-work of those 
who are rooted and grounded in Christ, but whose personal char- 
— ^ acter and work are of little or no worth in the Church. All such 
persons, as well as the ministers who helped to make them such, 
will suffer in-eparable loss in the day of the Lord Jesus, although 
they themselves may be saved. And this consideration obviates 
the objection made by some that if the work which shall be burned 
{ver. 15) are the persons brought into the Church, it is not to be 
supposed' that the ministers w'ho brought them in shall be saved. 
The final destiny of the persons affected by this work is, no doubt, 
necessarily involved in the fearful issue, but for their ruin the care- 
less minister may not have been solely responsible. He may be 
saved, yet so as through fire, and they be lost. In chapter v, 5, 
Paul enjoins the severest discipline of the vile fornicator " in order 
that the spirit might be saved in the day of the Lord." But a 
failure to administer such discipline would not necessarily have in- 
volved the final I'uin of those commissioned to administer it; they 
would " suffer loss," and their final salvation would be " as through 
fire." So, on the other hand, the work which the wise architect 
builds on the true foundation (ver, 14), and which endures, is not so 
much the final salvation and eternal life of those whom he brought 
into the Church and trained there as the general character and re- 
sults of his labour in thus bringing them in and training them. 

We thus seek the true solution of this allegory in carefully dis- 
tinguishing betw^een the mater icds put into the building and the 
^ocrk of the builders, and, at the same time, note the essential 
blending of the two. The wise builder Avill so teach, train, and dis- 
cipline the church in which he labours as to secure excellent and 
' permanent results. The unwise will work in bad material, and 
liave no regard for the judgment which will test the work of all. 
In thus building, whether wisely or unwisely, the persons brought 
into the church and the ministerial labour by which they are taught 
and disciplined have a most intimate relation ; and hence the essen- 
tial truth in both the expositions of the allegory which have been 
so widely maintained. 

Another of Paul's allegories occurs in 1 Cor. v, 6-8. Its imagery 
AHegory of ^^ bascd upon the Avell-known custom of the Jews of re- 
icor. V, G-8. moving all leaven h\nn their houses at the beginning of 
the passover week,' and allowing no leaven to be found there during 

' Till' ■•Mu'i'in niny liavo been sufrpested by the time of the year when the epistlo 
w-< "-itrc \ .•';;;):ntMitly (c'h:i;i. xvi, 8) ii short time before Penteeost, and, therefore, 


the seven days of the feast (Exod. xii, 15-20; xiii, 7). It also as- 
sumes the knowledge of the working of leaven, and its nature to 
communicate its properties of sourness to the whole kneaded mass. 
Jesus had used leaven as a symbol of pharisaic hypocrisy (Matt, 
xvi, 6, 12; Mark viii, 15; Luke xii, 1), and the power of a little 
leaven to leaven the whole lump had become a proverb (Gal. v, 9 ; 
comp. 1 Cor. xv, 33). All this Paul constructs into the following 
allegory : 

Know ye not that a little leaven leavens the whole lump ? Purge out 
the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, even as ye are vuileavened. 
For our passover, also, has been sacrificed, even Christ; wherefore let us 
keep the feast, not with old leaven, nor with the leaven of malice and 
wickedness, but with the unleavened loaves of sincerity and truth. 

The particular import and application of this allegory are to be 
found in the context. The apostle has in mind the case 
of the incestuous person who was tolerated in the church 
at Corinth, and whose foul example would be likely to contaminate 
the wdiole Church. He enjoins his immediate expulsion, and ex- 
presses amazement that they showed no humiliation and grief in 
having such a stain upon their character as a church, but seemed 
rather to be puffed up with self-conceit and pride. "Not goodly," 
not seemly or beautiful {ov KaXov), he says, "is your paraphrase of 
glorying" {Kavxriiia, ground of glorying). Sadly out of ^^^ passage. 
place your exultation and boast of being a Christian church with 
such a reproach and abuse in your midst. Know ye not the com- 
mon proverb of the working of leaven? The toleration of such 
impurity and scandal in the Christian society will soon corrupt the 
Avhole body. Purge out, then, the old leaven. Cast off and put 
utterly away the old corrupt life and habits of heathenism. You 
know the customs of the passover. "You know how, when the 
lamb is killed, every particle of leaven is removed from every 
household; every morsel of food eaten, every drop drunk in that 
feast, is taken in its natural state. This is the true figure of your 
condition. You are the chosen people, delivered from bondage; 
you are called to begin a new life, you have had the lamb slain fo;- 
you in the person of Christ. Whatever, therefore, in you corr( - 
sponds to the literal leaven, must be utterly cast out ; the perpetual 
passover to which we are called must be celebrated, like theirs, un- 
contaminated by any corrupting influence." ' 

with the scenes of the passover, either present or recent, in his thoughts. — Stanley on 
the Epistles to tlie Corinilii:ins, in loco. 
' Stanley on Corinthians, in loco. 


In such an allegory care slioukl be taken to give the right mean 

^ ins; to the more important allusions. The old leaven in 

The more im- ^^ ^ 

portant aiiu- verse 7 is not to be explained as referring directly to 
sions. ^j^g incestuous person mentioned in the context. It has 

a wider import, and denotes, undoubtedly, all corrupt habits and im- 
moral practices of the old heathen life, of which this case of incest 
was but one notorious specimen. The leaven in the Corinthian 
church was not so much the person of this particular offender, as 
the corrupting influence of his example, a residuum of the old unre- 
generate state. So " the leaven of the Pharisees " was not the per- 
sons, but the doctrine and example of the Pharisees. Furthermore, 
the words " even as ye are unleavened " are not to be taken literally 
(as Rosenmiiller, Wieseler, and Conybeare), as if meaning "even 
as ye are now celebrating the feast of unleavened bread." Such a 
mixing of literal and allegorical significations together is not to be 
assumed unless necessary. If such had been the apostle's design 
he would scarcely have used the word unleavened (d^vjioc) of per- 
sons abstaining from leavened bread. Nor is it supposable that 
the whole Corinthian church, or any considerable portion of them, 
observed the Jewish passover. And even if Paul had been observ- 
ing this feast at Ephesus at the time he wrote this epistle (chap, 
xvi, 8), it would have been some time past when the epistle reached 
Corinth, so that the allusion would have lost all its pertinency and 
effect. But Paul here uses unleavened figuratively of the Corinth- 
ians considered as a " new lump ; " for so the words used imme- 
diately before and after imply. 

The vivid allegory of the Christian armour and conflict, in Eph. 

vi, 11-17, furnishes its own interpretation, and is espe- 
Allegory of the .' , i . . , , . ^ , \-e 

chiistian ar- cially notable m the paiticular explanations of the dif- 

"'""'^" ferent parts of the armour. It appropriates the figure 

used in Lsa. lix, 17 (comp. also Rom. xiii, 12; 1 Thess. v, 8), and 
elaborates it in great detail. Its several parts make up r7\v rzavo- 
irXiav rov Qeov, " the whole armour (panoply) of God," the entire 
outfit of weapons, offensive and defensive, which is supplied by 
God. The enumeration of the several parts shows that the apostle 
has in mind the panoply of a heavy-armed soldier, with which the 
dwellers in all provinces of the Roman Empire must have been suf- 
ficiently familiar. The conflict {rj ttclXt], a life and death struggle) 
is not against blood and flesh (weak, fallible men, comp. Gal. i, IC), 
but against the organized spiritual forces of the kingdom of dark- 
ness, and hence the necessity of taking on the entire armour of 
God, wliicli alone can meet the exigencies of such a wrestling. The 
six pieces ol' armour here n^uiicd, w liii li include girdle and sandals. 


are . sufficiently explained by the writer himself, and ought not, in 
interpretation, to be pressed into all possible details of comparison 
which corresponding portions of ancient armour might be made to 
suggest. Here, as in Isa. lix, 17, righteousness is represented as a 
breastplate, but in 1 Thess. v, 8, faitJi and love are thus depicted. 
Here the helmet is salvation — a present consciousness of salvation 
in Christ as an actual possession — but in 1 Thess. v, 8 it is the Jiope 
of salvation. Each allusion must be carefully studied in the light 
of its own context, and not be too widely referred. For the same 
figure may be used at different times for different purposes.^ 

The complex allegory of the door of the sheep and of the good 
shepherd, in John x, 1-16, is in the main simple and self- AUeo-orv of 
interpreting. But as it involves the twofold comparison Johux, i-io. 
of Christ as the door and the good shepherd, and has other allu- 
sions of diverse character, its interpretation requires particular care, 
lest the main figures become confused, and non-essential points 
be made too prominent. The passage should be divided into two 
parts, and it should be noted that the first five verses are a pure 
allegory, containing no explanation within itself. It is observed, in 
verse 6, that the allegory (TTapoiiua) was not understood by those to 
whom it was addressed. Thereupon Jesus proceeded (verses 7-16) 
not only to explain it, but also to expand it by the addition of other 
images. He makes it emphatic that he himself is " the door of the 
sheep," but adds further on that he is the good shepherd, ready to 
give his life for the sheep, and thus distinguished from the hireling 
who forsakes the flock and flees in the hour of danger. 

The allegory stands in vital relation to the history of the blind 
man who was cast out of "the synagogue by the Phari- ^ 

J o o J ^ Occasion and 

sees, but graciously received by Jesus. The occasion and scope of the 
scope of the whole passage cannot be clearly apprehended '^ '^^o'^y- 
without keeping this connexion constantly in mind. Jesus first 

' Meyer appropriately observes : " The figurative mode of regarding a subject can 
by no means, with a mind so many-sided, rich, and versatile as that of St. Paul, be so 
stereotyped that the very same thing which he has here viewed under the figure of 
the protecting breastplate, must have presented itself another time under this very 
same figure. Thus, for example, there appears to him, as an offering well pleasing to 
God, at one time Christ (Eph. v, 2), at another the gifts of love received (Phil, iv, 18), 
at another time the bodies of Christians (Rom. xii, 1); under the figure of the seed- 
corn, at one time the body becoming buried (1 Cor. xv, 36), at another time the moral 
conduct (Gal. vi, 7) ; under the figure of the leaven, once moral corruption (1 Cor. v, 6), 
another time doctrinal corruption (Gal. v, 9) ; under the figure of clothing which is 
put on, once the new man (Eph. iv, 24), another time Christ (Gal. iii, 27), at another 
time the body (2 Cor. v, 3), and other similar instances." — Critical Commentary on 
Ephesians, in loco. 


contrasts liimself, as the door of tlie sheep, Avith those who acted 
rather the part of thieves and robbers of the flock. Then, when 
the Pharisees fail to understand him, he partly explains his mean- 
iiii;, and goes on to contrast himself, as the good shepherd, with 
those who h.-id no genuine care for the sheep committed to their 
cliarge, but, at the coming of the wolf, would leave them and 
fieo. At verse 17 he drops the figure, and speaks of his willing- 
ness to lay down his life, and of his power to take it again. Thus 
the whole passage should be studied in the light of that pharisaical 
opposition to Christ which showed itself to be selfish and self-seek- 
ing, and ready to do violence when met with opposition. These 
Pharisaical Jews, who assumed to hold the doors of the synagogue, 
and had agreed to thrust out any that confessed Jesus as the Christ 
(chap, ix, 22), were no better than thieves and robbers of God's 
flock. Against these the allegory was aimed. 
// Keeping in view this occasion and scope of the allegory, we next 
Import of par- inquire into the meaning of its principal allusions, 
ticuiar parts. u ^p^g f^jj ^f ^.j^g ^^l^^^p » jg t|j^. Church of God's people, 

who are here represented as his sheep. Christ himself is the door, 
as he emphatically affirms (verses 7, 9), and every true shepherd, 
teacher, and guide of God's people should recognize him as the 
oidy way and means of entering into the fold. Shepherd and sheep 
alike should enter through this door. " He that enters in through 
the door is a shepherd ' of the sheep" (ver. 2); not a thief, nor a 
robber, nor a stranger (ver. 5). He is well known to all who have 
any charge of the fold, and his voice is familiar to the sheep. A 
stranger's voice, on the contrary, is a cause of alarm and flight.' 
Such, indeed, were the action and words of those Jewish officials 
toward the man wlu> hud received his sight. He pei'ceived in their 
words and manner tliat which was strange and alien to the truth of 
God (see chap, ix, 30-33). 

So far all seems clear, but we should be less positive in finding 
other special meanings. The porter, or doorkeeper (dvpoipog, ver. 
S), has been explained variously, as denoting God (Calvin, Bengel, 
fholuck), or the Holy Spirit (Theodoret, Stier, Alford, Lange), or 
even Christ (Cyril, Augustine), or INIoses (Chrysostom), or John 
Baptist, (Godet). But it is better not to give the word any such 

' Not the shepherd, as tlie English version renders -oi/j.r'/i' here. Tliis has leil to a 
iiiixtnre of fignres by supposing Christ to be referred to. In this first simple allegory 
Christ is only the door ; further on, where the tigiire is explained, and then enlarged, 
he appears .also as the good shepherd (verses 11, 1!). 

■ For a desLviption of the hal)its and customs of oriental shepherds, see especially, 
T'.ii;::,son, The Land and the Book, vol. i, p. 3Ul. New York, 1«58. 


remarkable prominence in the interpretation. The porter is rather 
an inferior servant of the shepherd. He opens the door to him 
when he comes, and is supj^osed to obey his orders. We should,, 
therefore, treat this word as an incidental feature of the allegory, 
legitimate and essential to the figure, but not to be pressed into anv 
special significance. The distinction made by some between " the 
sheep " and " his own sheep " in verse 3, by supposing that several 
flocks were accustomed to occupy one fold, and the sheep of each 
particular flock, which had a separate shepherd, are to be under- 
stood by " his own sheep," may be allowed, but ought not to be 
urged. It is as well to understand the calling his own sheep by 
name as simply a special allusion to the eastern custom of giving 
particular names to favourite sheep. But we may with propriety 
understand the leading them out {e^dyei avrd, ver. 3), and putting 
forth all his oicn (rd Mm Tvavra tKpakrj, ver. 4), as an intimation of 
the exodus of God's elect and faithful ones from the fold of the old 
Testament theocracy. This view is maintained by Lange and Godet, 
and is suggested and warranted by the words of Jesus in verses 

The language of Jesus in defining his allegoi'y and expanding its 
imagery (verses 7-16) is in some points enigmatical, j,^^,, ,^pi^„^ 
For he would not make things too plain to those who, tion somewuar 
like the Pharisees, assumed to see and know so much ^^^"^^ 
(comp. chap, ix, 39-41), and he uses the strong words, which seem 
to be purposely obscure: "All as many as came before me are 
thieves and robbers" (ver. 8). He would prompt special inquiry 
and concern as to what might be meant by coming he/ore him, a 
procedure so wrong that he likens it to the stealth of a thief and 
the rapacity of a robber. Most natural is it to understand the com- 
ing before me, in verse 8, as corresponding with the climbing t<p 
some other wag, in verse 1, and meaning an entrance into the fold 
other than through the door. But it is manifestly aimed at those 
who, like these Pharisees, by their action and attitude, assumed to 
be lords of the theocracy, and used both deceit and violence to ac- 
complish their own will. Hence it would seem but proper to 
give the words before me {npo kfxov, ver. 8) a somewhat broad and 
general significance, and not press them, as many do, into the one 
sole idea of a 2>recedence in time. The preposition 7rp6 is often used 
of place, as before the doors, before the gate, before the city (comp. 
Acts V, 23; xii, 6, 14; xiv, 13) and may here combine Avith the 
temporal reference of 7]Xdov, came, the further idea of position in 
front of the door. These Pharisees came as teachers and guides of 
the people, and in such conduct as that of casting out the man born 


blind, they placed tliemselves in front of the true door, shutting up 
the kingdom of heaven against men, and neither entering them- 
selves nor allowing others to enter through that door (comp. Matt, 
xxiii, 13). All this Jesus may have intended by the enigmatical 
<iame before me. Accordingly, the various explanations, as " instead 
of me," " without regard to me," " passing by me," and " pressing 
before me," have all a measure of correctness. The expression is 
to be interpreted, as Lange urges, with special reference to the 
figure of the door. "The meaning is. All who came before the door 
{ttqo rrjg dvpag ^At9ov). With the idea of passing by the door this 
other is connected: the setting of themselves up for the door; that is, 
all who came claiming rule over the conscience as spiritual lords. 
The time of their cominjr is indicated to be alreadv past by the 
^jXdov, not however by the np6, forasmuch as the positive irpo does 
not coincide with the temporal one. ... At the same time empha- 
sis is given to the rjXdov. They came as though the Messiah had 
come; there was no room left for him. It is not necessary that Ave 
should confine our thou<yht to those who were false Messiahs in the 
stricter sense of the term, since the majority of these did not ap- 
pear until after Christ. Every hierarch prior to Christ was pseudo- 
jNIessianic in proportion as he was anti-Christian; and to covet rule 
over the conscience of men is pseudo-Christian. Be it further ob- 
served that the thieves and robbers, who climb over the Avail, ap- 
pear in this verse Avith the assumption of a higher poAver. They 
stand no longer in their naked selfishness, they lay claim to posi- 
tive importance, and that not merely as shepherds, but as the door 
itself. Tims the hiorarclis had just been attempting to exercise 
rule over the man who Avas born blind." ' 

The import of the other allusions and statements of this passage 
is sufficiently clear, but in a thorough and elaborate treatment of 
the whole subject the student should compare the similar allegories 
Avhich are found in Jer. xxiii, 1-4; Exek. xxxiv; Zech. xi, 4-17; 
and also the twenty-third Psalm. So also the allegory of the vine 
and its branches, John xv, I-IO'* — an allegory like that of the door 
and the shepherd peculiar to John — may be profitably compared 

' Lange's Commentary on John, in loco. 

* According to Lange (on .John xv, 1) " .Tpsus' discourse concerning the vine is 
neither an allegory nor a parable, but a parabolic discourse, and that a symbolical 
one." But this is an over-refinement, and withal, misleading. The figures of some 
allegories may be construed as symbols, and allegory and parable may have much in 
common. Hut this figure of the vine, illustrnting the vital and oigauic iniion between 
€hrist and believers, has every essential (|uality of the allegory, and contains its own 
interpretation within itself. 


and contrasted with the psahnist's allegory of the vine (Psa. Ixxx, 
8-15) which we have already noticed. 

The allegorizing process by which Paul, in Gal. iv, 21-31, makes 
Hagar and Sarah illustrate two covenants, is an excep- Paul's allegory 
tional New Testament instance of developing a mysti- g'J p^'j,i|arand 
cal meaning from facts of Old Testament history, Paul exceptional, 
elsewhere (Rom. vii, 1-6) illustrates the believer's release from the 
law, and union with Christ, by means of the law of marriage, ac- 
cording to which a woman, upon the death of her husband, is dis- 
charged from [Karqpyrjrat) the law which bound her to him alone, 
and is at liberty to become united to another man. In 2 Cor. iii, 
13-16, he contrasts the open boldness (napprjaia) of the Gospel 
preaching with the veil which Moses put on his face purposely to 
conceal for the time the transitory character of the Old Testament 
ministration which then apjDcared so glorious, but was, nevei-theless, 
destined to pass away like the glory of his own God-lit face. He 
also, in the same j^assage, makes the veil a symbol of the incapacity 
of Israel's heart to apprehend the Lord Christ. The passage of the 
Red Sea, and the rock in the desert from which the water flowed, 
are recognized as types of spiritual things (1 Cor.x, 1-4; comp. 
1 Peter iii, 21). But all these illustrations from the Old Testament 
differ essentially from the allegory of the two oo\enants. Paul 
himself, by the manner and style in which he iiitroduces it, evi- 
dently feels that his argument is exceptional and jDeculiar, and being 
addressed especially to those who boasted of their attachment tc» 
the law, it has the nature of an argmnentum ad horninem, "At the 
conclusion of the theoretical portion of his epistle,'^ says jMeyer„ 
" Paul adds a quite peculiar antinomistic disquisitiou; — a learned: 
rabbinico-alleaorical arirument derived from the law itself — ealcu- 
lated to annihilate the influence oi the pseudo-apostles with their 
own weapons, and to root them out of their own ground." ' 

We observe that the apostle, first of all, states the historical facts, 
as written in the Book of Genesis, namely, that Abra- „. , . ... 

' •' ' Historical facts 

ham was the father of two sons, one by the bond wom- accepted as ut- 

an, the other by the free woman; the son of the bond- '^^^ ^ 

maid was born Kara odpKa, according to flesh, i. e., according to the 

ordinary course of nature, but the son of the free woman was born 

through promise, and, as the Scripture shows (Gen. xvii, 19; xviii, 

10-14), by miraculous interposition. He further on brings in the 

rabbinical tradition founded on Gen. xxi, 9, that Ishmael persecuted 

{edccoKE, ver. 29) Isaac, perhaps having in mind also some subsequent 

aggressions of the Ishmaelites upon Israel, and then adds the words 

' Critical. Gonimer.tarv on Galatians, in loco. 


of Sarah, as written in Gen. xxi, 10, adaj^ting them somewhat freely 
to his i^urpose. It is evident from all this that Paul recognizes the 
. grammatico-historical truthfulness of the Old Testament narrative. 
But, he says, all these historical facts are capable of being allegor- 
ized: aTivd ecTLV dXXrjyopovfieva, tchich things are allegorical ; or as 
Ellicott well expresses it: "All which things, viewed in their most 
general light, are allegorical." ' He proceeds to allegorize the facts 
referred to, making the two Avomen represent the two covenants, 
the Sinaitic (Jewish) and the Christian, and showing in detail how 
one tiling answers to, or ranks icith {avaroixd) another, and also 
wherein the two covenants stand opposed. We may represent the 
correspondences of his allegory as follows: 

' Ilagar, bondmaid, =01d Covenant, avannxd, The present Jerusalem. 

- Sarali, free woman, =New Covenant, " Jeruisalem above, our mother. 

, j 3 Ishmacl, c liil J of flesh, " Those in bondage to the law. 

( •• Isaac, child of promise, " We, Christian brethren (ver. 28). 

i^Ishmael persecuted Isaac, " So now legalists pers. Christians. 

.^ . ^ , , ., , „ ( I sav, (ver. 31; V, 1): Be not en- 

8 Scripture says : Cast out bondmaid and son, " -^ , ' i i • i r, , 

'^ ■ ' ( tangled m yoke of bondage. 

The above tabulation exhibits at a glance six jjoints of similitude 
(on a line with the figures 1, 2, 3, etc.), and three sets of things con- 
trasted (as linked by the braces a, b, c). The general import of the 
apostle's language is clear and simple, and this allegorizing process 
served most aptly both to illustrate the relations and contrasts of 
the Law and the Gospel, and also to confound and silence the Juda- 
izing legalists, against whom Paul Avas writing. 

Here arises the important hermeneutical question, What inference 
What authori- ^^'^ ^^'^ ^^ draw from this example of an inspired apostle 
ty attaciics to allegorizing the facts of sacred history? Was it a fruit 
pie of aik'Kor- of ^lis rabbinical education, and a sanction of that alle- 
izing? gorical method of interpretation which was prevalent, 

especially among Jewish-Alexandrian writers, at that time? 

That Paul in this jiassage treats historical facts of the Old Testa- 
ment as capable of being used allegorically is a simple matter of 
fact. That he was familiar with the allegorical methods of ex- 
pounding the Scriptures current in his day is scarcely to be doubted. 
That his own rabbinical training had some influence on him, and 
coloured his methods of arcjument and illustration, there seems no 
valid reason to deny. It is further evident that in his allegorical 
use of Hagar and Sarah he employs an exceptional and peculiar 
method of dealing with his Judaizing opponents, and, so far as the 
passage is an argument, it is essentially an arguinentum ad honiinem. 

' Commentarv on Galatians, in loco. 


But it is not merely an argument of that kind, as if it could have 
no worth or force with any other parties. It is assumed to have an 
interest and value as illustrating certain relations of the Law and 
the Gospel.' But its position, connexion, and use in this epistle to 
the Galatians gives no sufficient warrant for such allegorical methods 
in general. Schmoller remarks : " Paul to be sure allegorizes here, 
for he says so himself. But with the very fact of his saying tliis 
himself, the gravity of the hermeneutical difficulty disappears. lie 
means therefore to give an allegory, not an exposition; he does not 
proceed as an exegete, and does not mean to say (after the manner 
of the allegorizing exegetes) that only what he now says is the true 
sense of the narrative.'"^ Herein especially consists the great dif- 
ference between Paul's example and that of nearly all the alle- 
gorists. He concedes and assumes the historical truthfulness of 
the Old Testament narrative, but makes an allegorical use of it for 
a special and exceptional purpose.^ 

' According to Jowett, " it is neither an argument nor an illustration, but an inter- 
pretation of the Old Testament Scripture after the manner' of the age in which he 
lived ; that is, after the manner of the Jewish and (Christian Alexandrian writers. 
Whatever difference there is between him and them, or between Philo and the Chris- 
tian fathers, as interpreters of Scripture, is not one of kind, but of degree. The 
Christian writers lay aside many of the extravagances of Philo; St. Paul is free also 
from their extravagances, employing only casually, and exceptionally, and when rea- 
soning with those ' who desire to be under the law,' what they use haliitually and un- 
sparingly, so as to overlay, and in some cases to destroy the original sense. Instead 
of seeking to draw subtle distinctions between the method of St. Paul and that of his 
age, probably of the school in which he was brought up, it is better to observe that 
the noble spirit of the apostle shines through the ' elements of the law ' in which ho 
clothes his meaning." — The Epistles of St. Paul to the Thessalonians, Galatians, etc., 
with Critical Notes and Dissertations, vol. i, p. 285. London, 1855. 

^ Commentary on Galatians (Lange's Biblework), in loco. 

" J. B. Liijhtfoot compares and contrasts Philo's allegory of Hagar and Sarah, and 
shows how the two move in different realms of thought, and yet have points of re- 
semblance as well as points of difference. He shows how, " with Philo, the allegory 
is the whole substance of his teaching ; with St. Paul it is but an accessory." He fur- 
nishes also, on the general subject, the following judicious and sensible remarks : 
"We need not fear to allow that St. Paul's mode of teaching here is coloured by his 
early education in the rabbinical schools. It were as unreasonable to stake the apos- 
tle's inspiration on the turn of a metaphor or the character of an illustration or tlio 
form of an argument, as on purity of diction. No one now thinks of maintaining t'.mt 
the language of the inspired writers reaches the classical standard of correctness and 
elegance, though at one time it was held almost a heresy to deny this. 'A treasure con- 
tained in earthen vessels,' ' strength made perfect in weakness,' ' rudeness in speech, 
yet not in knowledge,' — such is the far noisier conception of inspired teaching which 
we may gather from the apostle's own language. And this language we should do 
well to bear in mind." — St. Paul's Epistle to the Galatians, Greek Text, Notes, etc., 
p. 370. Andover, ISSL 



Hence we may say, in general, that as certain other Old Testament 

characters and events are acknowledged by Paul to have a typical 

siarnificance (see Rom. ix, 14; 1 Cor. x, 5), so he allows 

Paul's method '^ ^ . . 

of allegorizing a like significance to the points specified in the history 
allowable. ^£ Hairar and Sarah. But he never for a moment loses 
sight of the historical basis, or permits his allegorizing to displace it. 
And in the same general way it may be allowable for us to alle- 
gorize portions of the Scripture, providing the facts are capable of 
typical significance, and are never ignored and displaced by the 
allegorizing process. Biblical characters and events may thus be 
used for homiletical purposes, and serve for " instruction in right- 
eousness;" but the special and exceptional character of such hand- 
ling of Scripture must, as in Paul's example, be explicitly acknowl- 
edged. The apostle's solitary instance is a sufficient admonition 
that such expositions are to be indulged in most sparingly. 

The allegorical interpretation of the Book of Canticles, adopted 
Interpretation ^^y all the older Jewish expositors and the great major- 
of Canticles. i^y of Christian divines, is not to be lightly cast aside. 
Where such a unanimity has so long prevailed, there is at least 
the presumption that it is rooted in some element of truth. Tlie 
methods of procedure adopted by individual exegetes may all be 
open to objection, while, at the same time, they may embody prin- 
ciples in themselves essentially correct. 

The allegorists agree in making the pure love and tender rela- 
Aiiegoricai tions of Solomou and Shulamith represent the relations 
methods. of God and his people. But when they come to details 

they differ most widely, each writer finding in particular passages 
mystic or historical allusions, which, in turn, are disregarded or denied 
by others. In fact, it can scarcely be said that any two allegorizing 
minds have ever agreed throughout in the details of their exposi- 
tion. The Jewish Targura, which takes the bridegroom to be the 
Lord of the world, and the bride the congregation of Israel, explains 
the whole song as a picture of Israel's history, from the exodus un- 
til the final redemption and restoration of the nation to the mountain 
of Jerusalem.' Aben-Ezra makes the song an allegorico-prophetic 
history of Israel from Abraham onward. Origen and the Christian 
iillegorists generally make Christ the bridegroom and his Chui-ch 
the bride. Some, however, explain all the allusions of the loving 
intercourse between Christ and the individual believer, while others 
treat the whole song as a sort of apocalypse, or prophetic picture of 
the history of the Church in all ages. Ambrose, in a sermon on the 

' An English tianslation of the Tarj^im of Canticles is given in Adam Clarke's 
Comment:) rv, nt tlic end of his note? on Solomon's Song. 


perpetual virginity of the virgin Mary, represents Sh^^lanlith as 
identical with Mary, the mother of God. But these are only some 
of the more general types or outlines of exposition pursued by 
the allegorists. Besides such leading differences there is an end- 
less and most confusing mass of special expositions. It is assumed 
that every word must be explained in a mystic sense. The Targum, 
for example, in chap, ii, 4, understands the bringing into the house 
of wine as the Lord bringing Israel to the school of Mount Sinai 
to learn the law from Moses. Aben-Ezra explains the coming of 
the beloved, leaping over the mountains (chap, ii, 8), as Jehovah 
descending upon Sinai and shaking the whole mountain by his 
thunder. The Christian allegorists also find in every word and 
allusion of the song some illustration of the "great mystery" of 
which Paul speaks in Eph. v, 31-33, and some have carried the 
matter into wild extravagance. Thus Epiphanius makes the eighty 
concubines (vi, 8) prefigure eighty heresies of Christendom ; the 
winter (ii, 11) denotes the sufferings of Christ, and the voice of the 
turtle-dove (ii, 12) is the preaching of Paul. Ilengstenberg makes 
the hair of the bride, which is compared to a flock of goats that 
leap playfully from Mount Gilead (iv, 1), signify the mass of the 
nations converted to the Church, and Cocceius discovered in other 
allusions the strifes of Guelphs and Ghibellines, the struggles of 
the Reformation, and even particular events like the capture of 
the elector of Saxony at Miihlberg ! And so the interpretation of 
this book has been carried to the same extreme as that of John's 

Against the allegorical interpretation of Canticles we may urge ^ 
three considerations. First, the notable disagreement „ . ^. 

' o Objections to 

of its advocates, as indicated above, and the constant the allegorical 
tendency of their expositions to run into irrational 
extremes. These facts warrant the inference that some fatal er- 
ror lies in that method of procedure. Secondly, the allegorists, 
as a rule, deny that the song has any literal basis. The persons 
and objects described are mere figures of the Lord and his people, 
and of the manifold relations between them. This position throws 
the whole exposition into the realm of fancy, and explains how, as 
a matter of fact, each interpreter becomes a law unto himself. 
Having no basis in reality, thepurel y_ alle gorical inten^retation 
has_niiibeen_.ab4e to fix upon any historical stancIpoinjt7 or adojjt 
any common principles: Thirdly, the song contains no intimation 
that it is an allegory. It certainly does not, like the other alle- 
gories of Scripture, contain its exposition within itself. Hereinj_as 
w^jKvye shown above, ihe allegory differs from the parable, and to 



be self-consistent in allegorizing the song of songs we should either 
adopt Paul's method with the history of Sarah and Ilagar, and, al- 
lowing a literal historical basis, say : All these things may be alle- 
gorized; or else we should call the song a parable, and, as in the 
parable of the prodigal son, affirm that its imagery is true to fact 
and nature and capable of literal explanation, but that it serves 
more especially to set forth the mystic relation that exists between 
God and his people. 

Following, therefore, the analogy of Scripture we may more ap- 
propriately designate the Canticles as a dramatic par- 
dramatic Par- able. It may or may not have had a literal historical 
^ ^' occasion, as the marriage of Solomon with Pharaoh's 

daughter (1 Kings iii, l), or, as many think, with some beautiful 
shepherd-maiden of Northern Palestine (comp. chap, iv, 8). In 
either case the imagery and form of the composition are poetic and 
dramatic, and, as in the book of Job, we are not to suppose a literal 
narrative of persons actually addressing one another in such perfect 
and ornamental style. Solomon is a well-knoAvn historical person, 
and also, in Scripture, a typical character. Shulamith may have been 
one of his wives. But the song of songs is a j^arable, and its leading 
actors arc, as in all parables, typical of others besides themselves. 
The parable depicts in a most charming style the highest ideal of 
pure connubial love, and "we cannot but believe that the writer 
of this divine song recognized the symbolical character of that love, 
which he has here embellished. . , . The typical character of Solo- 
mon's own reign was well understood by himself, as appears from 
Psalm Ixxii. That the Lord's relation to his people was conceived 
of as a marriage from the tinie of the covenant at Sinai, is shown by 
repeated expressions which imply it in the law of Moses. That, under 
these circumstances, the marriage of the king of Israel should carry 
the thought up by a ready and spontaneous association to the cov- 
enant-relation of the Km g par excellence to the people whom he had 
espoused to himself, is surely no extravagant supposition, even if the 
analogous instance of Psalm xlv did not remove it from the rejrion 
of conjecture to that of established fact. The mystical use made of 
marriage so frequently in the subsequent scriptures, with evident 
and even verbal allusion to this song, and the constant interpreta- 
tion of both the Synagogue and the Church, show the naturalness of 
the symbol, and enhance the probability that the writer himself saAV 
what the great body of his readers have found in his production.'" 

' Prof. W. H. Green, in American edition of Lange's 0. T. Commentary, Introduc- 
tion pp. 24, 25. This learned exogcte adopts, along with Zoeldor, Dclitzscli, and 
some others, what he calls the typical method of interpreting the Canticles. " I am 


Accepting, then, the view that the song is of parabolic import, 
we should avoid the extravagances of those allegorists who find a 
spiritual significance in every word and metaphor. We should, i/ 
first of all, study to ascertain the literal sense of every passage, ^y 
First the natural, afterward that which is spiritual. The assump- 
tion of many that the literal sense involves absurdities and revolt- 
ing images is a grave error. Such writers seem to forget that " the 
work is an oriental j)oem, and the diction should therefore not be 
taken as prose. It is the offspring of a luxuriant imagination 
tinged with the voluptuousness characteristic of the eastern mind. 
There love is w^arm and passionate even while pure. It deals in 
colours and images which seem extravagant to the colder ideas of 
the West." ' , • 

Having apprehended the literal sense, we should proceed, as in a 
parable, to define the general scojdc and plan of the entire song. \^ 
But remembering that the whole is poetry of the most highly oi'na- 
mented character, the particular descriptions of persons, scenes, and 
events must not be supposed to have in every detail a spiritual or 
mystic significance. The mention of spikenard, myrrh, and cypress 
flowers (cliap. i, 12-14), yields an intensified thought of fragrance, 
and indicates the mutual attractiveness of the lovers, and their de- 
sire and care to please one another; and from this general idea it is 
not difficult to infer similar relations between the Lord and his 
chosen ones. But an attempt to find special meanings in the spike, ^ 
nard, and myrrh, and cypress flower, as if each allusion pointed to 
some distinct feature of the economy of grace, would lead to certain 
failure in the exegesis. The carping critics who have found fault 
with the descriptions of the bodies of Solomon and Shulamith, and 
condemned them as revolting to a chaste imagination, too readily 
ignore the fact that from the historical standpoint of the ancient 
writer these were the noblest ideals of the perfect human form, which, 
according to the psalmist (Psa. cxxxix, 14), is " fearfully and wonder- 
fully made." The highly wrought eulogy of the person of the be- 
loved (chap. V, 10-16) gives a vivid idea of his surpassing beauty 
and perfection, and, like John's glowing vision of the Son of man 
in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks (Rev. i, 13-16), may 
well depict the glorious person of the Lord. But the description 
must be taken as a whole, and not torn into pieces by an effort to 

not sure," he says, " but the absence of the name of God, and of any distinctive relig- 
ious expressions throughout the song, is thus to be accounted for — that the writer, 
conscious of the parabolic character of what he is describing, felt that there would be 
an incongruity in mingling the symbol with the thing sj-mbolized." 
^ Davidson, Introduction to the Old Testament, vol. ii, p. 404. 



find some separate attribute or doctrine of the Divine Person in 
head, hair, eyes, etc. The same principle must be maintained in 
explaining the description of the charmingly beautiful and perfect 
form of Shulamith in chap, vii, 2-6. The allegorical interpreters 
have been guilty of the most extravagant folly in spiritualizing 
every part of that portraiture of womanly beauty. But, taken as a 
whole, it may appropriately set forth, in type, the perfection and 
beauty of " a glorious Church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any 
such thing" (Eph. v, 27). 

• ♦•» 



The Old Testament Book of Proverbs has been appropriately called 

an Antholoscv of Hebrew gnomes.^ Its general form is 
Proverbs de- , °'' ^ • tt i 

nned and de- poctic, and follows the usual methods of Hebrew paral- 

scnbed. lelism. The simpler proverbs are in the form of dis- 

tichs,and consist of synonymous, antithetic and synthetic parallelisms, 
as has been explained in a previous part of this work.* But there 
are many involved passages and obscure allusions, and the book 
contains riddles, enigmas, or dark sayings (HTn, nV'pp), as well as 
provei'bs (^t?'0). Many a proverb is also a condensed parable; some 
consist of metaphors, some of similes, and some are extended into 
allegories. In the interpretation of all scriptural proverbs it is im- 
portant, therefore, to distinguish betAveen their substance and their 

The Hebrew word for 2)roverh (X*'0) is derived from the verb 
7B'0, which signifies to liken or comixirc. The same verb means also 
to rule, or have dominion, and some have sought to trace a logical 
connexion between the two significations; but, more probably, as 
Gesenius suggests, two distinct and independent radicals have coa- 
lesced under this one form. The proverb proper will generally be 
found, in its ultimate analysis, to be a comparison or similitude. 
Thus, the saying, which became a proverb (^5<'9) in Israel, " Is Saul 
also among the prophets'?" arose from his prophesying after the 
manner of tlie prophets with w^hom he came in contact (1 Sam. x, 
10-12). The proverb used by Jesus in the synagogue of Nazareth, 

' IJnifir.s Weisheitslehre der Hcbracr, p. 104. Strasburg, 1851. 

^ See above, pp. 95-99. 


" Physician, heal thyself," is a condensed parable, as, indeed, it is 
there called (Luke iv, 23), and it would be no difficult task to en- 
large it into a parabolic narrative. Plerein also we may see how 
jDroverbs and parables came to be designated by the same word. 
The word nagoLfita, adage, hyioorcl, expresses more nearly the later 
idea commonly associated with the Hebrew ?^, and stands as its 
representative in the Septuagint. In the New Testament it is used 
in the sense of adage, or common byword, in 2 Peter ii, 22, but in 
John's Gospel it denotes more especially an enigmatical discourse 
(John X, 6; xvi, 15, 29).^ 

Proverbs proper are therefore to be understood as short, pithy 
sayings, in which a wise counsel, a moral lesson, or a called Gnomic 
suggestive experience, is expressed in memorable form, poiuted^senti- 
Such sayings are often called gnomic because of their ment. 
pointed and sententious form and force. " The earliest ethical and 
practical wisdom of most ancient nations," observes Conant, " found 
expression in short, pithy, and pointed sayings. These embodied, 
in few words, the suggestions of common experience, or of individ- 
ual reflection and observation. Acute obsei'vers and thinkers, ac- 
customed to generalize the facts of experience, and to reason from 
first principles, were fond of clothing their results in striking apoph- 
thegms, conveying some instruction or witty reflection, some moral or 
religious truth, a maxim of worldly prudence or policy, or a practi- 
cal rule of life. These were expressed in terms aptly chosen to 
awaken attention, or inquiry, and reflection, and in a form that 
fixed them indelibly in the memory. They thus became elements 
of the national and popular thought, as inseparable from the men- 
tal habits of the people as the power of perception itself." ' " Prov- 
erbs," says another, "arc characteristic of a comparatively early 
stage in the mental growth of most nations. Men find in the outer 
world analogies to their own experience, and are helped by them to 
generalize and formulate what they have observed. A single start- 
ling or humorous fact fixes itself in their minds as the type to 
wliicli all like facts may be referred, as when men used the proverb, 
'Is Saul also among the prophets?' The mere result of an induc- 
tion to which other instances may be referred fixes itself in their 
minds with the charm of a discovery, as in ' the proverb of the an- 
cients. Wickedness proceedeth from the wicked' (1 Sam. xxiv, 13). 
. . . Such proverbs are found in the history of all nations, gener- 
ally in their earlier stages. For the most part there is no record of 

'Comp. above, p. 265. 

' The Book of Proverbs, with Hebrew text. King James' Version, and Revised Ver- 
siin. etc. For the American Bible Union. Introduction, p. 3. New Yori<, 1872. 


tlic'ir birth. No one knows their author. They find acceptance 

among men, not as resting upon the authority of a reverend name, 

but from their inherent truth, or semblance of trutli." ' 

The biblical proverbs are not confined to the book which bears 

that title. The Book of Ecclesiastes contains many a 
Rules for the t-» i i • i 

interpretation gnomic sentence. Proverbs appear also m almost every 

of proverbs. ^^^^.^ ^^ ^^le Scriptures, and, from the definition and ori- 
gin of proverbs, as given above, it will be readily seen tluit much 
care and discrimination may be often required for their proper ex- 
position. In such exposition the following observations will be 
found of practical value and importance. 
Cl. As proverbs may consist of simile, metaphor, parable, or alle- 
eory, the interpreter should, first of all, determine to 

Discrimination » •" ^ 

of form and which of these classes of figures, it to any, the proverb 
figure. properly belongs. We have seen above that Prov. v, 

15-18, is an allegory. In Prov. i, 20; viii, 1; ix, 1, wisdom is per- 
sonified. Eccles. ix, 13-18, is a combination of parable and prov- 
erb, the parable serving to illustrate the proverb. Some proverbial 
similes are of the nature of a commdrum, requiring us to pause and 
study awhile before we catch the point of comparison. The same 
is true of some proverbial expressions in which the comparison is 
not formally stated, but implied. Thus, in Prov. xxvi, 8, " As bind- 
ing a stone in a sling, so is he that gives honour to a fool." Here 
is a formal comparison, the point of which is not at first apparent, 
but it soon dawns on the mind as we reflect that the binding fast of 
a stone in a sling would of itself be a piece of folly. The next 
verse is enigmatical: "A thornbush (nin) goes up in a drunkard's 
hand, and a pi-overb in the mouth of fools." The distich implies a 
comparison between the thornbush in the drunkard's hand and a 
proverb in thtj mouth of fools. But what is the point of compari- 
son ? The passage is obscure by reason of the uncertainty attach- 
ing to the word nin, which may mean thorn, thornbush, or thistle. 
The authorized English version reads: "As a thorn goeth up into 
the hand of a drunkard, so is a parable in the mouth of fools." 
Stuart renders: "As a thornbush which is elevated [riseth up, Zuck- 
ler] ill the hand of a drunkard, so is a ])roverb in the mouth of a 
fool," and he explains as follows: "As a drunken man, who holds a 
high thornbush in his hand, will be very apt to injure others or 
himself, so a fool's words will injure himself or others."^ But Co- 
nant translates and explains the passage thus: "A thorn comes up 

' Prof. Pluinptrc in the Speaker's Commentary on Proverbs (Am. cil.)- Introduc. 
tion, p. 514. 

* Commentary on Proverbs, in loco. 


into tile drunkard's hand, so is a proverb in the mouth of fools. , . . 
The drunkard's hand, as he gropes around, blindly grasping at 
whatever comes in his way, is pierced by a thorn. So fares the 
fool when he awkwardly attempts to apply some sharp saying of 
the wise." The enigmatical character of the next verse we have 
already noticed (p. 269). It is evident, therefore, from this variety 
in the nature and style of proverbs, that the interpreter should be 
able to determine the exact character of each proverbial passage 
which he essays to explain. 

(^,Xireat critical and practical sagacity is also necessary both to 
determine the character of a iH'overb and to apprehend 

CriticQ.1 3.11 fl 

its scope and bearing. Many proverbs are literal state- practical sasac- 
ments of fact, the results of observation and experience; ^*^' 
as, " A child is known by his doings, whether pure and whether 
right his deed" (Prov. xx, 11). Many are simple precepts and 
maxims of a virtuous life, or warnings against sin, which any one 
can understand, as, " Trust in Jehovah with all thy heart, and upon 
thine own understanding do not rely " (Prov. iii, 5). " In the path of 
the wicked come thou not, and proceed not in the way of the evil " 
(Prov. iv, 14). But there are other proverbs that seem to defy all 
critical sharpness and ingenuity, as, " To eat much honey is not 
good, and to search out their glory is glory" (Prov. xxv, 27). The 
last clause has been a puzzle to all exegetes. Some, as the Author- 
ized Vei-sion, carry over the negative particle from the preceding 
sentence, and so make the author say the precise opposite of what 
he does say. Others reject the usus loquencU of the verb "ipn, to 
search out, and, appealing to the corresponding Arabic root, make 
the Avord mean to desjyise: "To despise their glory is glory." 
Others take the Avord "ii3|i, glory, in its radical sense of weight : " To 
search into weighty matters is itself a weight; i. e., men soon be- 
come satiated with it as with honey " (Plumptre). Zucklcr renders: 
"To search out the diflicult bringeth difficulty;" Stuart: "Search- 
ing after one's own glory is burdensome." Others suggest an emen- 
dation of the text. Amid such a diversity of possible constructions 
the sagacious critic will be slow to venture a positive judgment. 
He will consider how many such obscure sayings have arisen from 
events now utterly forgotten. Their whole point and force may 
have depended originally upon some incident like that of Saul 
prophesying, or upon some provincial idiom. So, again, the myste- 
rious word nj^ipy, in Prov. xxx, 15, translated horseleech in all the 
ancient versions, and vampire by many modern exegetes, gives an 
uncertainty to every exposition. Possibly here the text is corrupt, 
and we may take the word Alukah as a proper name, like Agur in 


verse 1, and Lemuel in chap, xxxi, 1. Then we woulrl supply some- 
tliing, as, "Words of Alukah," or, "Words which one spoke to 
Ahikah." It will, at least, be granted that among so many prov- 
erbs as have been preserved to us in the Scriptures, several of which 
were manifestly designed to puzzle, there are probably some which 
can now be only conjecturally explained. 

(3.' Wherever the context lends any help to the exposition of a 
Context and pvoverb great deference is to be paid to it, and it is to 
paraueiism. |j(> noted that in the Book of Proverbs, as in the other 
Scriptures, the immediate context is, for tlie most part, a very safe 
guide to the meaning of each particular passage. So, also, the 
poetic parallelisms, in which this book is written, help greatly in 
the exposition. The synonymous and the antithetic parallelisms, 
especially, are adapted, by way of the analogies and contrasts they 
furnish, to suggest their own meaning from within themselves. 
Thus Prov. xi, 25: "The soul of blessing (liberal soul that is a 
blessing to others) shall become fat (enriched), and he that waters 
shall also himself be watered." Here the second member of the 
parallelism is a metaphorical illustration of the somewhat enigmat- 
ical sentiment of the first. So, again, in the antithetic j^arallelism 
of Prov. xii, 24, each member is metaphorical, and the sense of each 
is made clearer by the contrast: "The hand of the diligent shall 
bear rule, but the slothful shall be under tribute." 

('4} But there are passages in the Book of Proverbs where the con- 
text affords no certain or satisfactory heli). There are 
Cominon sense •' . ^ 

and sound jurtg- passages that seem at first self -contradictory, and we 
"'^"^' are obliged to pause awhile to judge whether the 

language be literal or figurative. " There is," says Stuart, " scarce- 
ly any book which calls upon us so often to apply the golden mean 
between literality on the one hand and flimsy and diffuse general- 
ity on the other." ' Especially must common sense and sound judg- 
ment be appealed to where t)ther helps are not at hand. These are, 
in all doubtful cases, to be our last resort to guard us against con- 
struing all proverbs as universal propositions. Prov. xvi, 7, ex- 
presses a great truth: " When Jehovah delights in the ways of a 
man he makes even his enemies to be at peace with him." But 
there have been many exceptions to this statement, and many cases 
to which it could apply only with considerable modification. Such, 
to some extent, have been all cases of persecution for righteous- 
ness' sake. So, too, with verse 13 of the same chapter: " Delight 
of kings are lips of righteousness, and him that speaks right thini^s 
he will love." The annals of human history show that this has not 
' Commentary ou Proverbs. Introduction, p. 128. 


always been true; and yet the most impious kings understand the 
value of upright counsellors. Prov. xxvi, 4 and 5, are contradictory 
in form and statement, but, for reasons there given, both are at once 
seen to be true: "Answer not a fool according to his folly, lest thou 
also be like unto him. Answer a fool according to his folly, lest he 
become wise in his own eyes." A man's good sense and judgment 
must decide how to answer in any particular case. Prov. vi, 30, 31, 
has been supposed to involve an absurdity: "They do not despise 
a thief when he steals to satisfy his soul when he is hungry ; but if 
found he shall restore sevenfold, the whole substance of his house 
shall he give." Theft is theft in any case, but if a man is so im- 
poverished as to steal to satisfy hunger, wherewithal, it is asked, 
can he be made to restore sevenfold? Whence all that substance 
of his house ? The absurdities here alleged arise from a lack of 
knowledge of Hebrew sentiment and law. To begin with, the pas- 
sage is proverbial, and must be taken subject to proverbial limita- 
tions. Then the context must be kept in view, in which the writer 
is aiming to shoAV the exceeding wickedness of adultery. No one 
shall be innocent, he argues, (ver. 29), who touches his neighbor's 
wife. A man who steals to satisfy the cravings of hunger is not 
despised, for the palliating circumstances are duly considered; nev- 
ertheless, if discovered, even he is subject to the full penalty of the 
law (comp. Exod. xxii, 1-4). The sevenfold is, doubtless, to be 
taken idiomatically. His entire property shall be given up, if nec- 
essary, to make due restitution. All this of a thief under the cir- 
cumstances named. But an adulterer shall find even a worse judg- 
ment — blows, and shame, and reproach that may not be wiped away 
(verses 32-35). As for the supposed absurdity of compelling a man 
who has nothing to restore sevenfold, it arises from an absurdly 
literal interpretation of the proverb. The sense evidently is, that 
whatever the circumstances of the theft, if the thief be found, he 
shall certainly be punished as the case may demand. A man might 
own estates and yet steal to satisfy his hunger; or, if he owned no 
prop'erty, he could be sold (Exod. xxii, 3) for perhaps more than 
seven times the value of what he had stolen. So, also, in Eccles. 
x, 2, it is at once evident that the language is not to be taken liter- 
ally, but metaphorically: "The heart of a wise man is on his right, 
but the heart of a fool on his left." The exact meaning of the 
proverb, however, is obscure. Heart is probably to be taken for 
the judgment or understanding, and the sentiment is that a wise 
man has his understanding always at ready and vigorous command, 
while the opposite is the case with the fool. 




Types and symbols constitute a class of figures distinct from all 

those which Ave have treated in the foreofoinsr chapters: 
TypesandSvm- ^ . ' 

boisdeflnedaiKi hut they are not, properly speaking, hgures of speech. 

distinguished, rpj^gy resemble each other in being sensible representa- 
tions of moral and religious truth, and may be defined, in general, 
as figures of thought in which material objects are made to convey 
vivid spiritual conceptions to the mind. Crabb defines types and 
symbols as different species of the emblem, and observes: "The 
type is that species of emblem by which one object is made to 
represent another mystically; it is, therefore, only employed in 
religious matters, particularly in relation to the coming, the oftice, 
and the death of our Saviour; in this manner the offering of Isaac 
is considered as a type of our Saviour's offering himself as an 
atoning sacrifice. The symbol is that species of emblem which is 
converted into a constituted sign among men; thus the olive and 
laurel are the symbols of peace, and have been recognized as such 
among barbarous as well as enlightened nations." ' The symbols 
of Scripture, however, rise far above the conventional signs in 
common use among men, and are employed, especially in the apoc- 
alyptic portions of the Bible, to set forth those revelations, given 
in visions or dreams, which could find no suitable expression in 
mere words. 

Types and symbols may, therefore, be said to agree in their gen- 
eral character as emblems, but they differ noticeably in 
types and sym- special method and design. Adam, in his representa- 
°^' tive character and relation to the human race, t^'as a 

type of Christ (Rom. v, 14). The rainbow is a symbol of the cove- 
nanted mercy and faithfulness of God (Gen. ix, 13-lC; Ezek. i, 28; 
Rev. iv, 3; comp. Isa. liv, 8-10), and the bread and wine in the 
sacrament of the Lord's Supper are symbols of the body and blood 
of Christ. There are also typical events like the passage of the 
Red Sea (1 Cor. x, 1-11), and symbolico-typical actions like Ahi- 
jah's rending his new garment as a sign of the rupture of the king- 
dom of Solomon (1 Kings xi, 29-31). In instances like the latter 

'Engliali Syiionynics, p. 531. New York, 1859. 


certain essential elements of both type and symbol become blended 
in one and the same example. The Scriptures also furnish us with 
examples of symbolical metals, names, numbers, and colours. 

Certain analogies may be traced between types and symbols, 
and several figures of speech. Symbols, being always ^naiogybe- 
based upon some points of resemblance between them- tween types 
selves and the things to be symbolized, correspond and certain fl<T- 
somewhat closely with metonymy of the adjunct, or ^^^^ ^^ speech, 
metonymy of the sign and the thing signified (comp. above, pp. 
249, 250). Then there are analogies between the simile, the par- 
able, and the type, on the one hand, and between the metaphor, 
the allegory, and the symbol, on the other. Similes, parables, and 
types have this in common, that a formal comparison is made or 
assumed between different persons and events, and the language is 
employed in its literal sense; but in metaphor, allegory, and sym- 
bol, the characteristic feature is that one thing is said or seen, 
and another is intended. If we say "Israel is like a barren fig- 
tree," the sentence is a simile. In Luke xiii, 6-9, the same image 
is expanded into a narrative, in the j^arable of the fruitless fig-tree.* 
But our Lord's miracle of cursing the leafy but fruitless fig-tree 
(Mark xi, 13, 14) was a symbolico-typical action, foreshadowing 
the approaching doom of the Jewish nation. If, however, we 
say " Judah is an olive-tree," we have a metaphor ; one thing 
is said to be another. But in Jer. xi, 16, IV, this metaphor is 
extended into an allegory, and in Zech. iv, 3, two olive-trees are 
symbols of Zerubbabel and Joshua," the two anointed ones (He- 
brew, sons of oil) who stand by the Lord of all the earth" (ver, 14). 
At the same time it is to be observed that as the metaphor differs 
from the simile in being an implied rather than a formal compari- 
son, and as the allegory differs from the parable in a similar way — 
saying one thing and meaning another — so the symbol differs from 
the type in being a suggestive sign rather than an image of that 
which it is intended to represent. The interpretation of a type re- 
quires us to show some formal analogy between two persons, ob- 
jects, or events; that of a symbol requires us rather to point out 
the particular qualities, marks, features, or signs by means of which 
one object, real or ideal, indicates and illustrates another. Mel- 
chizedek is a type, not a symbol, of Christ, and Ileb. vii fur- 
nishes a formal statement of the typical analogies. But the seven 
golden candlesticks (Rev. i, 12) are a symbol, not a type, of the 
seven churches of Asia. The comparison, however, is implied, not 
expressed, and it is left to the interpreter to unfold it, and show the 
points of resemblance. 


Besides these formal distinctions between types and symbols 
there is the more radical and fundamental difference that while a 
symbol may represent a thing either past, present, or future, a type 
Natural dis- is essentially a prefiguring of something future from 
ti net ion be- itg^jf j^ the technical and theological sense a type is 
and symbols, a fio-ure or adumbration of that which is to come. It 
is a person, institution, office, action, or event, by means of which 
some truth of tlio Gospel was divinely foreshadowed under the Old 
Testament dispensations. Whatever was thus prefigured is called 
the antitype.' A symbol, on the other hand, has in itself no essen- 
tial reference to thne. It is designed rather to represent some 
character, office, or quality, as when a horn denotes either strength 
or a king in whom strength is impersonated (Dan. vii, 24; viii, 21). 
The origin of symbols has been supposed to be connected with the 
history of hierogly])hics." 

" The word type^'' observes Muenscher, " is employed not only 
in theology, but in philosophy, medicine, and other sci- 
acteristics of ences and arts. In all these departments of knowledge 
^hetjpe. ^j^g radical idea is the same, while its sj)ecific meaning 

varies with the subject to which it is applied. Resemblance of 
some kind, real or supposed, lies at the foundation in every case. 
In the science of theology it properly signifies the 2yreordalned rep- 
resentative relation xohich certain persons, events, and institutions of 
the Old Testament hear to corresponding persons, events, and institu- 
tions in the JVew." ° Accordingly the type is always something real, 
not a fictitious or ideal symbol. And, further, it is no ordinary fact 
or incident of history, but one of exalted dignity and worth — one di- 
vinely ordained by the omniscient Ruler to be a foreshadowing of 
the good things which he purposed in the fulness of time to bring- 
to pass through the mediation of Jesus Christ.^ Three things are, 

' It should be observed, however, that this word (avrlrvnov), as used in the New 
Testament (Heb. ix, 21; 1 Peter iii, 21), is not equivalent to the technical sense of 
antitype, or counterpart, as now used in theological literature. It has the more gen- 
eral meaning of imac/c or likeness. 

^ Comp. Warburton, Divine Legation of Moses, book iv, sect, iv, 

^ Types and the Typical Interpretation of Scripture. Article in the American Bib- 
lical Keiiository for January, 1811, p. 97. 

* In the New Testament the word rvKog, type, is applied variouslj', but always with 
the fundamental idea of a figure or real form. In John xx, 25, it is used of the 
print of the nails in the Saviour's hands — visible marks which identified him as the 
crucified. In Acts vii, 4.'5, it denotes idolatrous images, and in verse 11, and Ileb. 
viii, .5, the pattern or model after wliith the tabernacle was made. In Acts xxiii, 25, 
it denotes the form or style of a letter, and in Rom. vi, lY, a form of doctrine. 
Comp. v-jTOTviTuaLr in 2 Tim. i, 13. In Phil, iii, 17; 1 Thess. i, 7; 2 Thess. iii, 9; 
1 Tim. iv, 12; Titus ii, 7 ; 1 Peter v, 3, the word is used in the sense of an example 


accordingly, essential to make one person or event the type of 

1. There must be some notable point of resemblance or analogy 
between the two. They may, in many respects, be to- uijeness and 
tally dissimilar. In fact it is as essential that there be uniikeness. 
points of dissimilarity as that there be some notable analogy, other- 
wise we should have identity where only a resemblance is designed. 
Adam, for instance, is made a type of Christ, but only in his head- 
ship of the race, as the first representative of humanity; and in 
Rom. V, 14-20, and 1 Cor. xv, 45-49, the apostle notes more points 
of uniikeness than of agreement between the two. Moreover, we 
always expect to find in the antitype something higher and nobler 
than in the type, for " much greater honour than the house has he 
who built it " (Heb. iii, 3). 

^2. There must be evidence that the type was designed and ap- 
pointed by God to represent the thing typified. This Divinely ap- 
proposition is maintained with great unanimity by the poiot^ed. 
best writers on scriptural typology. " To constitute one thing the 
type of another," says Bishoi^ Marsh, " something more is wanted 
than mere resemblance. The former must not only resemble the 
latter, but must have been designed to resemble the latter. It 
must have been so designed in its original institution. It must 
have been designed as something preparatory to the latter. The 
type as well as the antitype must have been pre-ordained, and they 
must have been pre-ordained as constituent 2:)arts of the same gen- 
eral scheme of divine providence." ' " It is essential to a type," 
says Van Mildert, " in the scriptural adaptation of the term, that 
there should be competent evidence of the divine intention in the 
^correspondence between it and the antitype — a matter not to be 
left to the imagination of the expositor to discover, but resting on 

or pattern of Christian character and conduct. But the more technical theological 
sense of the word appears in Rom. v, 14, where Adam is called a " type of him who 
was to come." On this passage Meyer remarks : " The type is always something his- 
torical (a person, tiling, saying) which is destined, in accordance with tlie divine plan 
to prefigure something corresponding to it in the future — in the connected scheme of 
sacred historical teleology, which is to be discerned from the standpoint of the anti- 
type." The word is used in the same sense in 1 Cor. x, 6 : " These things (the ex- 
periences of the fathers, verses 1-5) became types of us." That is, says Meyer, they 
were " historical transactions of the Old Testament, guided and shaped by God, and 
designed by him, figuratively, to represent the corresponding relation and experience 
on the part of Christians." In verse 11 of the same chapter we have the word rvm- 
Kuc, typically, or, after the manner of type ; and it here bears essentially the same 
sense as verse 6. " These things came to pass typically with them ; and it was 
"written for our admonition upon whom the ends of the ages fl,re come." 
' Lectures on Sacred Criticism and Interpretation, p. 371. Lond., 1838. 


some solid proof from Scripture itself." ' But we should guard 
ao-ainst the extreme position of some writers who declare that noth- 
ing in the Old Testament is to be regarded as typical but what the 
New Testament affirms to be so. We admit a divine purpose in 
every real type, but it does not therefore follow that every such 
purpose must be formally affirmed in the Scriptures. 
/ 3'. The type must prefigure something in the future. It must 
ForeshadowinR ^crvc in the divine economy as a shadow of things to 
of the future, comc (Col. ii, 17 ; Heb. x, 1). Hence it is that sacred 
typology constitutes a specific form of prophetic revelation. The 
Old Testament dispensations were preparatory to the New, and 
contained many things in germ which could fully blossom only 
in the light of the Gospel of Jesus. So the law was a school- 
master to bring men to Christ (Gal. iii, 24). Old Testament char- 
acters, offices, institutions, and events were prophetic adumbrations 
of corresponding realities in the Church and kingdom of Christ. 

The principal types of the Old Testament may be distributed into 
five different classes, as follows : 

1. Typical Persons. It is to be noted, however, that persons are 
typical, not as persons, but because of some character or relation 
which they sustain in the history of redemption. Adam was a type 
Typical Per- ^^ Christ because of his representative character as the 
sons. first man, and federal head of the race (Rom. v, 14). 

" As through the disobedience of the one man the many were made 
sinners, so also through the obedience of the one the many shall be 
made righteous" (Rom. v, 19). "The first man Adam became a 
living soul; the last Adam a life-giving spirit" (1 Cor. xv, 45). 
Enoch may be regarded as a type of Christ, in that, by his saintly 
life and translation he brought life and immortality to light to the 
antediluvian world. Elijah the Tishbite was made, in the same 
way, a type of the ascending Lord, and these two were also types 
of God's power and purpose to change his living saints, " in a mo- 
ment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trump" (1 Cor. xv, 52). 
In the spirit and power of his prophetic ministry Elijah was also a 
type of John the Baptist. Abraham's faith in God's word, and 
consequent justification (Gen. xv, G), while yet in uncircumcision 
(Rom. iv, 10), made him a type of all believers who are justified by 
faith "apart from works of law" (Rom. iii, 28). His offering of 
Isaac, at a later date (Gen. xxii), made him a type of working faith, 
showing how "a man is justified by Avorks and not by faith only" 
(James ii, 24). Typical relations may also be traced in Melchizedek, 
Joseph, Moses, Joshua, David, Solomon, and Zerubbabel. 

'Bampton Lectures for 1814, p. 239. 


2, Typical Institutions. The sacrificing of lambs and other ani- 
mals, the blood of which was appointed to make atone- Typical insu- 
ment for the souls of men (Lev. xvii, 11), was typical tutions. 
of the offering of Christ, who, " as a lamb without blemish and 
without spot" (1 Pet. i, 19), was "once offered to bear the sins of 
many" (Heb. ix, 28). The sabbath is a type of the believer's ever- 
lasting rest (Heb. iv, 9). The provision of cities of refuge, into 
which the manslayer might escape (Num. xxxv, 9-34), was typical 
of the provisions of the Gospel by which the sinner may be saved 
from death. The Old Testament passover was typical of the New- 
Testament eucharist, and the feast of tabernacles a foreshadowing of 
the universal thanksgiving of the Church of the latter day (comp. 
Zech. xiv, IG). The Old Testament theocracy itself was a type and 
shadow of the more glorious New Testament kingdom of God. 

3. /Typical Offices. Every holy prophet of the Old Testament, 
by being the medium of divine revelation, and a mes- 
senger sent forth from God, was a type of Christ. It '^^p*^'^' ^^ices. 
was in the office of prophet that Moses was a type of Jesus (Deut. 
xviii, 15). The priests, and especially the high priest, in the per- 
formance of their priestly duties, were types of Him who through 
his own blood entered into the holy place once for all, and thereby 
obtained eternal redemption (Heb. iv, 14; ix, 12). Christ is also, 
as king, the antitype of Melchizedek, who was king of righteous- 
ness and king of peace (Heb. vii, 2), and of David and Solomon, 
and of every other of whom Jehovah might say, " I have set my 
king upon my holy hill of Zion" (Psa. ii, 6). So the Lord Christ 
unites in himself the offices of prophet, priest, and king, and fulfills 
the types of former dispensations. 

/4.) Typical Events. Under this head we may name the flood, the 
exodus from Egypt, the soiourn in the wilderness, the 

" .u 1 r ^ j: ^1, I Typical Events. 

giving oi manna, the supply oi Avater from the rock, 
the lifting up of the brazen serpent, the conquest of Canaan, and 
the restoration from the Babylonish captivity. It is such events 
and experiences as these, according to Paul (1 Cor, x, 11), which 
" came to pass typically with them : and it was written for our ad- 
monition upon whom the ends of the ages are come." 
(5.^ Typical Actions. These partake so largely of the nature of 

symbols that we may appropriately designate them as 

■, ,- ^ . . -, . . , , ^, Typical Actions, 

symbolico-typical, and treat them m a chapter by them- 
selves. So far as they were prophetic of things to come they were 
types, and belong essentially to what we have defined as typical 
events ; so far as they were signs (niDJ*, 07]fj,ela), suggestive of lessons 
of present or permanent value, they were symbols. Tlie symbol 


may be a mere outward visible sign; the type always requires 
the presence and action of an intelligent agent. So it should be 
noted that typical characters, institutions, offices, or events ai-e 
such by bringing in the activity or service of some intelligent 
agent. The brazen serpent, considered merely as a sign — an ob- 
ject to look to — was rather a symbol than a type ; but the per- 
sonal agency of Moses in lifting up the serpent on a pole, and the 
looking upon it on the })art of the bitten Israelites, places the whole 
transaction properly in the class of typical events; for as such it 
w;is mainly a foreshadowing of things to come. The miracle of the 
fleece, in Judges vi, 36-40, was not so much a type as a symbolical 
sign, an extraordinary miraculous token, and our Lord cites the 
case of Jonah, who was three days and three nights in the whale, 
not only as a prophetic type of his burial and resurrection, but also 
as a symbolical " sign " for that " evil and adulterous generation " 
(^latt. xii, 39). The symbolico-typical actions of the prophets are: 
Isaiah's walking naked and barefoot for three years (Isa. xx, 2-4) ; 
Jeremiah taking and hiding his girdle by the Euphrates (Jer. xiii, 
1-11); his going to the potter's house and observing the work 
wrought there (xviii, 1-6) ; his breaking the pottei-'s bottle in the 
valley of Hinnom (xix) ; his putting a yoke upon his neck for a 
sign to the nations (xxvii, 1-14; comp. xxviii, 10-17); and his hid- 
ing the stones in the brick-kiln (xliii, 8-13) ; Ezekiel's portraiture 
upon a brick of the siege of Jerusalem, and his lying upon his side 
for many days (Ezek. iv) ; his cutting off his hair and beard, and 
destroying it in different p:ircels (v) ; his removing the baggage, 
and eating and drinking with trembling (xii, 3-20) ; his sighing 
(xxi, 6, 1) ; and his peculiar action on the death of his wife (xxiv, 
15-27); Ilosea's man-ying "a wife of whoredoms and children of 
whoredoms" (IIos. i), and his buying an adulteress (iii) ; and Zech- 
ariah's making crowns of silver and gold for the head of Joshua 
(Zech. vi, 9-15). 

The hermeneutical principles to be used in the interpretation of 
X, , types are essentially the same as those \ised in the in- 

Hcrmeneutlcal . 

principles to be terpretation of parables and allegories. Neverth(.'less, 
o aurve . jj^ view of the peculiar nature and purpose of the scrip- 

tural types, we should be careful in the application of the following 
^1. The real point of resemblance between type and antitype 

should, first of all, 1)e clearly apprehended, and all far- 
All real corre- ' ' . * . 

spondcnces to fetched and recondite analogies should be as carefully 

'^ ""''^ ■ avoided. It often requires the exercise of a very sober 

discrimination to determine the proper api)lication of this rule. 


Every real correspondence should be noted. Thus, the lifting up 
of tlie brazen serpent, narrated in Num. xxi, 4-9, is one ^jj^ brazen 
of the most notable types of the Old Testament, and was serpent. 
explained by Jesus himself as a prefiguration of his being lifted u]) 
upon the cross (John iii, 14, 15). Three points of analogy are clear- 
ly traceable: (1) As the brazen serpent was lifted up upon a i)ol(\ 
so Christ upon the cross. (2) As the serpent of brass was made, 
by divine order, in the likeness of the fiery serpents, so Christ was 
made in the likeness of sinful flesh (Rom. viii, 3) a curse for us 
(Gal, iii, 13). (3) As the offending Israelites, bitten and ready to 
die, looked unto the serpent of brass and lived, so sinful men, poi- 
soned by the old serpent, the devil, and ready to perish, look hj 
faith to the crucified Christ, and are made alive for evermore. 
Other incidental analogies involved in one or another of these three 
may be allowed, but should be used with caution. Thus, Bengel 
says: "As that serpent was one without venom placed over against 
venomous serpents, so the man Christ, a man without sin, against 
the old serpent." ' This thought may be incidentally included in anal- 
ogy (2) above. Lange's observation, however, seems too far-fetched 
and mystical: "The fiery serpents in the wilderness were primarily 
the form of a divine punishment, presented in a form elsewhere de- 
noting sin. The elevated serpent-standard was thus the type of 
punishment lifted in the phantom of sin, and transformed into a 
means of sah^ation. This is the nature of the cross. The look at 
the cross is a look at the curse-laden One, who is not a sinner, but 
a divine token of evil and penalty, and of the suffering of [a sub- 
stitute for] penalty which is holy, and therefore transformed into 
deliverance."" Such incidental analogies, as long as they adlicre 
consistently to the main points, may be allowed, especially in homi- 
letical discourse. But to find in the brass — a metal inferior to gold 
or silver — a type of the outward meanness of the Saviour's appear- 
ance ; or to suppose that it was cast in a mould, not wrought by 
hand, and thus typified the divine conception of Christ's human 
nature ; or to imagine that it was fashioned in the shape of a cross 
to depict more exactly the form in which Christ was to suffer — 
these, and all like suppositions, are far-fetched, misleading, and to 
be rejected. 

In Hebrews vii the priesthood of Christ is illustrated and en- 
hanced by typical analogies in the character and position Meichizedek 
of Melchizedek. Four ]ioints of resemblance are there "■^^ Christ, 
set forth. (1) Melchizedek Avas both king and priest; so Christ. 
(2) His timelessness — being without recorded parentage, genealogy, 
^ Gnomon, on John iii, 14. ^ Commentary on John, in loco. 


or death — is a figure of tlie perpetuity of Christ's priesthoocl, 
{3) Melchizedek's superiority over Abraham and ovei* the Levitical 
l^riests is made to suggest the exalted dignity of Christ. (4) Mel- 
chizedek's priesthood was not, like the Levitical, constituted by 
formal legal enactment, but was without succession and without 
tribe or race limitations; so Christ, an independent and universal 
priest, abides forever, having an unchangeable priesthood. Much 
more is said in the chapter by way of contrasting Christ with the 
Levitical priests, and the manifest design of the writer is to set 
forth in a most impressive way the great dignity and unchangeable 
perpetuity of the priesthood of the Son of God. But interpreters 
have gone wild over the mysterious character of Melchizedek, yield- 
ing to all manner of speculation, first, in attempting to answer the 
question " Who was Melchizedek?" and second, in tracing all im- 
aginable analogies. Whedon observes sensibly and aptly: "Our 
opinion is, that Melchizedek was nobody but himself; himself as 
simply narrated in Gen. xiv, 18-20; in which narrative both David, 
in Psa. ex, and our author after him, find every point they specify 
in making him a king-priest, typical of the king-priesthood of 
Christ. Yet it is not in the person of Melchizedek alone, but in the 
grouping, also, of circumstances around and in his person, that the 
inspired imagination of the psalmist finds the shadowing points. 
Melchizedek, in Genesis, suddenly appears upon the historic stage, 
without antecedents or consequents. He is a king-priest not of 
Judaism, but of Gentilism universally. He appears an unlineal 
priest, without father, mother, or pedigree. He is preceded and 
succeeded by an everlasting silence, so as to present neither begin- 
ning nor end of life. And he is, as an historic picture, forever 
there, divinely suspended, the very image of a perpetual king-priest. 
It is thus not in his actual unknown reality, but in the Scripture 
jyresentation, that the group of shadowings appears. It is by opti- 
cal truth only, not by corporeal facts, that he becomes a picture, 
and with his surroundings a tableau, into which the psalmist first 
reads the concejjtion of an adumbration of the eternal priesthood 
of the Messiah; and all our author docs is to develop the particulars 
whicli are in mass presupposed by the psalmist." ' 
^^.yrhe points of dilTerence and of contrast between type and 
Nolftijie differ- antitype should also be noted by the interpreter. The 
trasLsloteobl ^^V^ ^'"^"^ ^^s very nature must be inferior to the anti- 
served. type, for Ave cannot expect the shadow to equal the 

substance. "For," says Fairbairn, "as the typical is divine truth 
on a lower stage, exhibited by means of outward relations and 
' Commentary on New Testament, in loco. 


terrestrial interests, so, when making the transition from this to the 
antitypical, we must expect the truth to appear on a loftier stage, 
and, if we may so speak, with a more heavenly aspect. What in 
the one bore immediate respect to the bodily life, must in the other 
be found to bear immediate respect to the spiritual life. While in 
the one it is seen and temporal objects that ostensibly present 
themselves, their proper counterpart in the other is the unseen and 
eternaL — there, the outward, the present, the worldly; here, the 
inward, the future, the heavenly." * 

The New Testament writers dilate upon these differences between 
type and antitype. In Heb. iii, 1-6, Moses, considered Moses and 
as the faithful apostle and servant of God, is repre- Cbnst. 
sented as a type of Christ, and this typical aspect of his character 
is based upon the remark in Num. xii, V, that Moses was faithful in 
all the house of God. This is the great point of analogy, but the 
writer immediately goes on to say that Jesus is " worthy of more 
glory than Moses," and instances two points of superiority: (1) Mo- 
ses was but a part of the house itself in which he served, but Jesus 
is entitled to far greater glory, inasmuch as he may be regarded as 
the builder of the house, and much greater honour than the house 
has he w^ho built or established it. Further (2), Moses was faithful 
in the house as a minister (ver. 5), but Christ as a son over the 
house. Still more extensively does this writer enlarge upon the 
superiority of Christ, the great High Priest, as compared with the 
Levitical priests after the order of Aaron. 

In Rom. V, 14, Adam is declared to be " a type of Him who was 
to come," and the whole of the celebrated passage, Adam and 
verses 12-21, is an elaboration of a typical analogy Christ. 
which has force only as it involves ideas and consequences of the 
most opposite character. The great thought of the j^assage is this: 
As through the trespass of the one man Adam a condemning judg- 
ment, involving death, passed upon all men, so through the right- 
eousness of the one man, Jesus Christ, the free gift of saving 
grace, involving justification unto life, came unto all men. But in 
verses 15-17 the apostle makes prominent several points of distinc- 
tion in which the free gift is " not as the trespass." First, it differs 
quorititively. The trespass involved the one irreversible sentence 
of death to the many, the free gift abounded with manifold pro- 
visions of grace to the same many [rovq noXXovg). It differs also 
numerically in the matter of trespasses; for the condemnation fol- 
lowed one act of transgression, but the free gift provides for justi- 
fication from many trespasses. Moreover, the free gift differs 
*The Typology of Scripture, vol. i, p. 131. Philadelphia, 1867. 


qualitatively in its glorious results. By the trespass of Adam " death 
reigned " — acquired domination over all men, even over those who 
sinned not after the likeness of the transgression of Adam; but 
through the one man, Jesus Christ, they who receive the abundance 
of his saving grace will themselves reign in eternal life. 

3. The Old Testament types are susceptible of complete interpre- 
oid Testament tation only by the light of the Gospel. It has too often 
types appre- j^ggj^ hastily assumed that the ancient prophets and 

bended only by •' i <. /. n i i t 

the Gospel. holy men were possessed of a full knowledge or the 
mysteries of Christ, and vividly apprehended the profound signiti- 
cance of all sacred types and symbols. That they at times had 
some idea that certain acts and institutions foreshadowed better 
things to come may be admitted, but according to Ileb. ix, 7-12, 
the meaning of the holiest mysteries of the ancient worship was 
not manifest while the outward tabernacle was yet standing. And 
not only did the ancient worshippers fail to understand those mys- 
teries, but the mysteries themselves — the forms of Avorship, " the 
meats, and drinks, and divers washings, ordinances of flesh, imposed 
until a time of rectification " ((5iopi9a)crew5-, straightening tq?),^ were 
unable to make the Avorshippers perfect. In short, the entire Mo- 
saic cultus Avas, in its nature and purpose, preparatory and peda- 
gogic (Gal. iii, 25), and any interpreter Avho assumes that the 
ancients apprehended clearly what the; Gospel reveals in the Old 
Testament types, Avill be likely to run into extravagance, and in- 
volve himself in untenable conclusions. 

We may appropriately add the following Avords of Cave: "Hav- 
ing apprehended that the divine revelation to the human race had 
been made at successive times and by successive stages, the doc- 
trine of types gave utterance to the further apprehension that these 
reA^elations AA'ere not incongruous and disconnected, but by numer- 
ous links, subtle in their location, and by concords prearranged, 
were inseparably interAvoven. To the belief that holy men had 
spoken things beyond the limits of human thought, the doctrine of 
types superadded or testified to the addition of the belief that 
these holy men were moved by one Spirit, their utterances having 
mysterious interconnexions Avith each other, this explaining that, 
and that completing this. ... It is this community of system, this 
fundamental resemblance under different forms, Avhich the doctrine 
of types aids us to apprehend. Nor, Avhen once the conception of 
the historical development of the Scriptures has been seized, is it 

' That is, says Alford, " when all these things would be better arranged, the sub- 
stance put where the shadow was before, the sufficient grace where the insufficient 
type." Greek Testament on Hcb. ix, lo. 


any longer difficult to fix the precise significance of the type. Type 
and antitype convey exactly the same truth, but under forms ap- 
propriate to different stages of development." ' 

It remains for us to inquire into the validity of the principle, 
maintained by many writers, that only those persons Limitation of 
and things are to be regarded as typical which are ex- ^JT'^®- 
pressly declai-ed to be such in the New Testament. A leading au- 
thority for this view is Bishop Marsh, who says: "There is no 
other rule by which we can distinguish a real from a pretended 
type, than that of Scripture itself. There is no other possible 
means by which we can know that a previous design and a pre- 
ordained connexion existed. Whatever persons or Bishop Marsh's 
things, therefore, recorded in the Old Testament, were ^^tum. 
especially declared by Christ, or by his apostles, to have been de- 
signed as prefigurations of persons and things relating to the New 
Testament, such j)ersons and things so recorded in the former ai'e 
types of the persons or things with Avhich they are compared in 
the latter. But if we assert that a person or thing was designed to 
prefigure another person or thing, where no such prefiguration has 
been declared by divine authority, we make an assertion for which 
we neither have nor can have the slightest foundation. And 
even when comparisons are instituted in the New Testament be- 
tween antecedent and subsequent persons and things, we must be 
careful to distinguish the examples, where a comparison is insti- 
tuted merely for the sake of illustration, from the examples where 
such a connexion is declared as exists in the relation of a type to 
its antitype." * 

This principle, however, is altogether too restrictive for an ade- 
quate exposition of the Old Testament types. We Marsh's rule too 
should, indeed, look to the Scriptures themselves for narrow. 
general principles and guidance, but not with the expectation that 
every type, designed to prefigure Gospel truths, must be formally 
announced as such. We might with equal reason demand that 
every parable and every prophecy of Scripture must have inspired 
and authoritative exposition. Such a rigid rule of interpretation 
could scarcely have been adopted by so many excellent divines ex- 
cept under the pressure of the opposite extreme, which found hid- 
den meanings and typical lessons in almost every fact of Scripture. 
The persons and events which are expressly declared by the sacred 

' The Scriptural Doctrine of Sacrifice, p. 157. Edinb., 187*7. 

* Lectures on Sacred Criticism and Interpretation, p. 373. This extreme view is, 
in substance, affirmed by Macknight, Ernesti, Conybeare, Van Mildert, Home, Nares, 
Chevalier, Stuart, Stowe, and Mueuscher. 


writers to be typical are rather to be taken as specimens and ex- 
amples for the interpretation of all types. For it will hardly be 
deemed reasonable or satisfactory to affirm that Moses and Jonah 
A better prin- were typical characters and deny such character to 
«ipie. Samuel and Elisha. The miraculous passage of the 

Jordan may have as profound a typical significance as that of the 
Red Sea, and the sweetened waters of the desert as that of the 
smitten rock in Horeb. Our Loi'd rebuked the two discii^les for 
liaving a heart so dull and slow to believe in all things which the 
prophets spoke (Luke xxiv, 25), clearly implying the duty of seek- 
ing to apprehend the sense of all the prophetic Scriptures. A sim- 
ilar reproof is administered to the Hebrews (Heb. v, 10-14) for 
their incapacity to understand the typical character of Melchizedek, 
"thus placing it beyond a doubt," says Fairbairn, "that it is both 
the duty and the privilege of the Church, with that measure of the 
Spirit's grace which it is the part even of private Christians to pos- 
sess, to search into the types of ancient Scripture and come to a 
correct understanding of them. To deny this is plainly to withhold 
an important privilege from the Church of Christ, to dissuade from 
it is to encourage the neglect of an incumbent duty." ' 

Such Old Testament persons and events as are cited for typical 
lessons should always, however, possess some notably exceptional 
importance. Some have taken Abel, as a keeper of sheep, to be a 
type of Christ the great Shepherd. J5ut a score of others might as 
well be instanced, and the analogy is, therefore, too common to be 
exalted into the dignity of a prefiguring type*. So, also, as we have 
said, every prophet, priest, and king of the Old Testament, consid- 
ering merely their offices, were types of Christ; but it would be 
improper to cite every one, of whom we have any recorded history, 
as a type. Only exceptional characters, such as Moses, Aaron, and 
David, are to be so used. Each case must be determined on its 
own merits by the good sense and sound judgment of the inter- 
preter; and his exegetical discernment must be disciplined by a 
thorough study of such characters as are acknowledged on all hands 
to be scriptural types. 

' Typology, vol. i, page 29. See this subject more amply discussed by this writer 
in connexion with tlic i)assage above (juoted (pp. 26-32) where he ably show.< that 
the writers belonging to the school of Marsh " drop a golden principle for the sake of 
avoiding a few lawless aberrations." He observes that their system of procedure 
''sets such narrow limits to our inquiries that we cannot, indeed, wander far into the 
regions of extravagance. But in the very prescription of these limits it wrongfully 
Avithholds from us the key of knowledge, and shuts us up to evils scarcely less to be 
dcprccatc<l than those it seeks to correct." 




Biblical symbolism is, in many respects, one of the most difficult 
subjects with which the interpreter of divine revelation Difficulties of 
has to deal. Spiritual truths, prophetic oracles, and the subject. 
things unseen and eternal, have been represented enigmatically in 
sacred symbols, and it appears to have been the pleasure of the 
Great Author of divine revelation that many of the deepest mys- 
teries of providence and grace should be thus enshrined. And, be- 
cause of its mystic and enigmatic character, this whole subject of 
symbolism demands of the interpreter a sober and discriminating 
judgment, a most delicate taste, a thorough collation and compari- 
son of Scripture symbols, and a rational and self -consistent pro- 
cedure in their explanation. 

The proper and logical method of investigating the principles of 
symbolization is first to collate a sufficient number and Principles of 
variety of the biblical symbols, especially such as are procedure. 
accompanied by an authoritative solution. And it is all-important 
that we do not admit into such a collation any objects which are 
not veritable symbols, for such a fundamental fallacy would neces- 
sarily vitiate our whole subsequent procedure. Having brought 
together in one field of view a goodly number of unquestionable 
examples, our next step is to mark carefully the principles and 
methods exhibited in the exposition of those symbols which are ac- 
companied by a solution. As, in the interpretation of parables, we 
make the expositions of our Lord a main guide to the understand- 
ing of all parables, so from the solution of symbols furnished by 
the sacred writers we should, as far as possible, learn the jjrinciples 
by which all symbols are to be interpreted. 

It is scarcely to be disputed that the cherubim and flaming sword 
placed at the east of Eden (Gen. iii, 24), the burn- classification of 
ing bush at Horeb (Exod. iii, 2), and the pillars of symbols. 
cloud and fire which went before the Israelites (Exod, xiii, 21) 
were of symbolical import. In a scientific classification of symbols 
these are, perhaps, sufficiently exceptional to be placed by them- 
selves, and designated as miraculously signal. Other symbols 
are appropriately named material, because they consist of material 


objects, as the blood offered in expiatoiy sacrifices, the bread and 
wine of the Eucharist, and the tabernacle and temple with their 
apartments and furniture. But by far the more numerous symbols 
are the visional, including all such as were seen in the dreams and 
visions of the prophets. Under one or the other of these three 
heads we may bring all the biblical symbols, and any attempt at 
a more minute classification would, at this stage of our investiga- 
tion, be unnecessary and inexpedient.' 

As the visional symbols are the most numerous and common. 
The Almond ^^^ many of them have special explanations, we be- 
^^- gin with these, and take the simplest and less impor- 

tant first. In Jer. i, 11, the prophet is represented as seeing "a 
rod of an almond tree," which is at once explained as a symbol of 
the active vigilance with which Jehovah would attend to the per- 
formance of his n'ord. The key to the explanation is found in the 
Hebrew name of the almond tree, IpU^, which Gesenius defines as 
" the waker, so called as being the earliest of all trees to awake 
from the sleep of winter." " In verse 12 the Lord appropriates 
this word in its verbal form, and says: "For I am watching (l|X') 
over my word to perform it." 

* Winthrop, in his Essay on the Characteristics and Laws of Prophetic PTOibols 
(2d ed., New Yorii, 1854, pp. lG-19), adopting substantially the theory of Mr. 
D. N. Lord (Theological and Literary Journal for April, 1851, p. 668), divides what 
he regards as the biblical symbols into five classes, as follows: (1) Living conscious 
agents, as God, the Son of man, the Lamb, angels, men, souls (Rev. vi, 9), beasts, 
monster animals, and insects ; (2) dead bodies, as the slain witnesses in Rev. xi ; 

(3) natural unconscious agents or objects, as the earth, sun, moon, stars, and waters ; 

(4) artificial objects, as candlesticks, sword, cities, books, diadems, and white robes ; 

(5) acts, effects, characteristics, conditions, and relations of agents and objects, as 
speaking, fighting, and colour. But a large proportion of the agents and objects he 
enumerates are not symbols. He makes God and Christ, disembodied souls, I'isea 
saints, and living men, symbols of themselves ! Other objects named, as acts, ef- 
fects, colours, and relations, are symbolical only as they form part of a composite 
image, and should be rather designated as symbolical at/ribtitcx, and not erected into 
independent symbols. E. R. Craven, the Ameiican editor of Lange on the Revela- 
tion (pp. 145, 146), adopts the first four classes of Lord and Winthrop, and then pro- 
pounds a further classification based upon the relations of symbols to the ultimate 
objects symbolized. He finds five orders, which he designates (1) immediate-similar, 
(2) immediate-ideal, (3) mediate-individual, (4) classical, and (5) aberrant. But he 
falls into the error of Lord and Winthrop, of making an object symbolize itself. 
His immediate-similar, and at least some of his immediate-symbols, cannot, for this 
reason, be accepted as symbols until proven to be such by valid evidence. Such proof 
we do not find that he has attempted to produce. 

^ Ileb. Lex., sub verbo. Pliny (Hist. Nat., xvi, 25) observes that the almond blos- 
soms first of all trees in the month of Januaiy, ajid mat\ires its fruit in March. 
Nagelsi)a{^h (Com. on Jeremiah, in loco) remarks: " What the cock is among domestic 
animals, the almond is among trees." , 


A seething pot (n'lSJ ~i"'p, a j^ot hlotcn iq^on, i. e., by fire) appeared 
to the prophet Avith " its face from the face of the north " Tbe seething 
(Jer. i, 13), that is, its front and opening were turned ^°*- 
toward the prophet at Jerusalem, as if a furious fire were jDouring 
its blaze upon its northern side, and was likely to overturn it and 
drive its boiling hot waters southward " upon all the cities of Ju- 
dah" (ver. 15). This is explained in the immediate context as the 
irruption of " all the families of the kingdoms of the north " ujjon 
the inhabitants of Judah and Jerusalem. " The swellinof waters of a 
flood are the usual symbol of any overwhelming calamity (Psa. Ixix, 
1, 2), and especially of a hostile invasion (Isa. viii, 7, 8); but this is 
a flood of scalding waters whose very touch is death." ' Here, also, 
in the inspired exposition of the dsion, appears a play upon He- 
brew words. Jehovah says, in verse 14, " From the north shall be 
opened (nnsn) the evil upon all the inhabitants of the land." There 
is a designed assonance between ffiSJ in verse 13 and nnSJjl in verse 14. 

The symbol of the good and bad figs, in Jer. xxiv, is accom- 
panied by an ample exposition. The prophet saw " two The good and 
baskets of figs set before the temple of Jehovah " (ver. 1), ^^'^ ^^ss. 
as if they had been placed there as offerings to the Lord. The 
good figs were pronounced very good, and the bad figs were very 
bad, and, for that reason, not fit to be eaten (ver. 3). The good 
figs represent, according to tlie Lord's own showing, the better 
classes of the Jewish peoj^le, who were to be taken for a godly dis- 
cipline to the land of the Chaldseans, and in due time brought 
back again. The bad figs represent Zedekiah and the miserable 
remnant that were left with him in the land of Judah, but were 
soon cut off or driven away. 

Very similar is Amos' vision of " a basket of summer fruit '" 
(Amos viii, 1), that is, early-ripe fruit (f^i^; comp. 2 Sam. ^jje summer 
xvi, 1, and Isa. xvi, 9) ready to be gathered. It was a ^""^• 
symbol of the end (|*ip) about to come upon Israel. As in the sym- 
bols of the almond rod and the seething pot, there is here also a 
paronomasia of the Hebrew words for r2/»e fruit and end, quayts 
and qets. The people are rii^e for judgment, and Jehovah will 
bring the matter to an early end ; and, as if the end had come, it is 
written (ver. 3): "And the songs of the temple have wailed in that 
day, saitli the Lord Jehovah. Vast the corpse ! In every place he 
has cast it forth. Hush ! " 

The resurrection of dry bones, in Ezek. xxxvii, 1-14, is explained 
of the restoration of Israel to their own land. The vision is not a par- 
able (Jerome), but a composite visional symbol of life from the dead, 
' R. Payne Smith, in Speaker's Commentary, in loco. 


The dry bones are expressly declared to be " the whole house of Is- 
rael" (ver. 1 1), and are represented as saying: " Our bones are dried, 
and our hope :s perished." These bones were not en- 

Th6 RgsuttgC" 

tion of dry cased in sepulchres, or buried in tlie ground, but were 
Bones. g^gjj jjj gj.g<jt numbers " on the surface of the valley " 

(ver. 2). So the exiled Israelites were scattered among the nations, 
and the lands of their exile were their gi-aves. But the prophecy 
now comes from Jehovah (ver. 12) : " Behold, I open your graves and 
brino- you up out of your graves, O my people! " In verse 14 it is 
added : " I will put my Spirit in you, and ye shall live, and I will 
cause you to rest on your own ground, and ye shall know that I, 
Jehovah, have spoken and accomplished, saith Jehovah." To all 
outward appearances Israel was politically and spiritually ruined, 
and the promised restoration was, in reality, as life from the dead. 

In the opening vision of the Apocalypse, John saw the likeness 
The golden of the Son of man in the midst of seven golden candle- 
candiestick. sticks, and was told that the candlesticks were symbols 
of the seven churches of Asia. And there is no question but that 
the golden candlestick with its seven lamps seen by the prophet 
Zechariah (chap, iv, 2), and the seven-branched candlestick of the 
Mosaic tabernacle (Exod. xxv, 31-40), were of like symbolical im- 
port. These all denote the Church or people of God considered 
as the light of the world (comp. Matt, v, 14; Phil, ii, 15; Eph. v, 8). 

In Zechariah's vision (Zech. iv) there appeared two olive trees, 
The two Olive one at the right and the other at the left of the golden 
Trees. candlestick, and through two of their branches they 

poured the golden oil out of themselves. The composite symbol 
was " a Avord of Jehovah to Zerubbabel, saying. Not in might and 
not in power, but in my Spirit, saith Jehovah of hosts" (ver. 6); 
and the two olive trees denoted " the two anointed ones (Hebrew, 
sons of oil) who stand by the Lord of all the land " (ver. 14). These 
two anointed ones are spoken of as if well known, and needing no 
further designation. The vision had special comfort and encour- 
agement for Zerubbabel. At that time of trouble, when the suprem- 
acy of Persia seemed so absolute that Israel might well despair of 
regaining any of its ancient glory, and might be overawed by an 
undue estimate of national and military power, the lesson is given 
that the people of God need not aspire after that sort of prow- 
ess. God's people are set to be the light of the world, and their 
glory is to be seen not in worldly might and pomp, but in the 
Spirit of Jehovah of hosts. And tliis Spirit, as contrasted with 
the might of the world, is to be understood, not solely as the sanc- 
tifviii£r orrace of God in the heart, but as the divine wisdom and 


power of the Almighty, by which he ever carries to completion the 
great purposes of his will. The mountains of difficulty which con- 
fronted this great leader of God's people should become a plain 
(ver. 7); his hands had laid the foundation of the house of God 
(which itself was a symbol of the Church), and he has the assurance 
that he shall complete it, and in the triumph of his labour even the 
eyes of Jehovah shall rejoice (ver. 10). "Joshua, the high priest 
standing before the angel of Jehovah " (chap, iii, 1) has already 
received special comfort and encouragement from the vision and 
prophecy of the previous chapter, and these two, Joshua and Zer- 
ubbabel, are evidently " the two anointed ones " denoted by the 
olive trees. These were raised up in the providence of God and 
prepared and consecrated to be the ministers of his grace to the 
people in that perilous time.' There is no pi'oj^riety in making 
these trees represent, as some do, the Church and the State; for, 
if the candlestick represents the Chui'ch, it would be incongruous 
to make one of the olive trees represent the same thing. For the 
same reason we must reject the view of Kliefoth and Wright, who 
make the olive trees denote Jews and Gentiles as jointly aiding and 
sustaining the lig]\t of truth, for this also confounds candlestick and 
olive trees. There is, further, no warrant for making these trees 
symbolize the regal and priestly offices or orders, for the Scripture 
furnishes no valid evidence that those offices and orders as such 
were ever designed to be media of communicating the grace and 
power of God to the Church. The office of priest was established, 
not as a means of communicating divine grace to the people, 
but rather to offer the people's gifts and sacrifices for sins to 
God (Heb. v, 1), and the office of king certainly had no such func- 
tion as that of these olive trees. Neither was Zerubbabel in any 
proper sense a king. Individual priests and kings were, indeed, 
a means of blessing to Israel, but an equal or greater number 
were a curse rather than a blessing. Joshua and Zerubbabel were 
the chosen and anointed agents for building the second temple, and 
they fully meet the requirements of the symbol.* 

' "The two sons of oil," says Keil, "can only be the two media, anointed with oil, 
tlirough whom the spiritual and gracious gifts of God were conveyed to the Church 
of the Lord, namely, the existing representatives of the priesthood and the regal gov- 
ernment, who were at that time Joshua, the high priest, and the prince Zerubbabel. 
These stand by the Lord of the whole earth as the divinely appointed instruments 
through whom the Lord causes his Spirit to flow into his congregation." — Commen- 
tary on the Minor Prophets, in loco. 

^ Cowles observes: "I prefer to apply the phrase, the two anointed ones, to the two 
orders, kings and priests, rather than to the two individuals then filling those offices, 
Zerubbabel and Joshua, because this provision for oil through these conducting tubes 


The mention of " the two olive trees and the two candlesticks, 
The allusion in f^tanding before the Lord of the earth," in Kev. xi, 4, is 
Rev. xi, 4. merely a metaphorical allusion to these symbols in 
Zechariah, and serves to enhance the dignity of the two witnesses 
whom tlie Avriter is describing. But with John they are not sym- 
bols, and were not seen as such in his vision. And this fact should 
make us distrust all those expositions which make the two Avitnesses 
represent offices and orders in the Church, or two lines of witnesses, 
or the Law and the Gospel, or two diiferent Christian bodies, as 
the Waldenses and Albigenses. If the olive trees in Zechariah rep- 
resent individuals, the allusion in Rev. xi, 4 would most properly 
designate the two witnesses as individuals also, and the Avhole de- 
scription of their work, power, death, resurrection, and ascension to 
heaven, most readily harmonizes with this view. The singularity of 
their position is also denoted by calling them " the two candlesticks," 
as well as the two olive trees. They were not only God's two 
anointed ones, but the two sole light holders which he had remain- 
ing in that doomed city "where their Lord was crucified" (ver. 8). 

The symbols employed in the Book of Daniel are, happily, so 
fully exjjlained that there need be no serious doubt as to the import 
^, • ., of most of them. The great image of Nebuchadnezzar's 

The composite .. 

Image of Dan- dream (chap ii, 31-35) Avas a symbol of a succession of 
*^^"" world-powers. The head of gold denoted Nebuchad- 

nezzar himself, as the mighty head and representative of the Baby- 
lonian monarchy (vers. 37, 38). The other parts of the image, 
composed of other metals, symbolized kingdoms that were subse- 
quently to arise. The legs of iron denoted a fourth kingdom of 
great strength, " forasmuch as iron breaks in pieces and crushes 
every thing" (ver. 40). The feet and toes, part of iron and part of 
clay, indicated the mingled strength and weakness of this kingdom 
in its later period (vers. 41-43). The stone that smote the image, 
and became :i great mountain filling the whole land, was a prophetic 
symbol of the kingdom of the God of heaven (vers. 44, 45).' 

was not transient, limited to the lifetime of these two men, but permanent — to con- 
tinue as long as God should give them kings and priests, and, especially, because 
permanence was a cardinal idea in the symbol." — Notes on the Minor Prophets, in 
loco. Here are several umvarranled and fallacious assumptions. There is nothing 
in the symbol that represents enduring permanence ; Zerubbabel, though of royal an- 
cestry, was not a king, but, like Noliciniah, of later times, was merely a temporary 
governor, and a subject of the Persian Empire. And no king, in any worthy sense 
of the name, ever reigned in Israel after the exile. 

' Nebuchadnezzar's dream of the great tree, in Dan. iv, is so fully and minutely ex- 
])lained there, that we need only make this reference to it, and leave the reader to ex- 
jiniine tlie details for himself. 


Tlie four great beasts, in Dan. vii, 1-8, are said to represent four 
kings that should arise out of the earth (ver. 11). The xhefourBeasts 
fourth beast is also defined, in verse 23, as a fourth of Daniel vii. 
kingdom, from which we infer that a wild beast may symbolize 
either a king or a kingdom. So in the image, the king Nebuchad- 
nezzar was the head of gold (chap, li, 38), and also the representa- 
tive of his kingdom. The ten horns of the fourth beast are ten 
kings (ver. 24), but from a comparison of Dan. viii, 8, 22, and Rev. 
xvii, 11, 12, it appears that horns may also symbolize either kings or 
kingdoms. In any such image of a wild beast with horns, the 
beast would properly represent the kingdom or world-power, and 
the horn or horns some particular king or kings in whom the exer- 
cise of the power of the kingdom centered itself. So a horn may 
represent either a king or kingdom, but always with this implied 
distinction. No explanation is given of the wings and the heads of 
the beast