The Right and Wrong Uses of the Bible eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 174 pages of information about The Right and Wrong Uses of the Bible.

The other writings of the Old Testament and the books of the New Testament have yielded similar general results to the touchstone of criticism; concerning which it is needless to speak further.

Our critical glasses bring out, clear and strong, the fact of a human, literary craft in these books, the signs on every hand of the labor of brain and skill of pen through which the literature of a venerable nation, and of the infant church born of it, took slow shape into our Bible.  Such a work needs must have in it the traces of human imperfection; and these limitations of thought and knowledge, these mistakes of fallible writers, are to be seen by every one, save those who will not see.

It is impossible after such a study to rest in the illusion of an infallible book, of which, as a book, God can be said to be the “author.”

IV.

The growth of this theory is plain to us, and discredits its authority.

The explanation that Max Mueller makes of the growth of superstitious reverence for ancient traditions in Hindu history is suggestive on this point.

“In an age when there was nothing corresponding to what we call literature, every saying, every proverb, every story handed down from father to son received very soon a kind of hallowed character.  They became sacred heir-looms, sacred because they came from an unknown source, from a distant age.  There was a stage in the development of human thought when the distance that separated the living generation from their grandfathers or great-grandfathers was as yet the nearest approach to a conception of eternity, and when the name of grandfather and great-grandfather seemed the nearest expression of God.  Hence what had been said by these half human, half divine ancestors, if it was preserved at all, was soon looked upon as a more than human utterance.  Some of these ancient sayings were preserved because they were so true and so striking that they could not be forgotten.  They contained eternal truths, expressed for the first time in human language.  Of such oracles of truth it was said in India that they had been heard, Sruta, and from it arose the word Sruti, the recognized term for divine revelation in Sanskrit."[10]

How, in later times, the great writings of the Hebrews came to acquire the same exaggerated sacredness, we can also observe.  We read in one of the historical books of the Jews that “Nehemiah founded a library and gathered together the writings concerning the Kings, and of the prophets, and the (songs) of David and epistles of Kings concerning temple gifts."[11] This formation of a National Library was really the germ out of which grew the Old Testament.  It was a purely civic act by a layman, but it expressed the honor in which the national writings were coming to be held.  It is coincident with this that we find a priestly movement to draw a sacred line around the more important writings of the nation.

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The Right and Wrong Uses of the Bible from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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