In this which has been said of the literature we have the clue also for the reconstruction of the nation’s history. The naive assumption in the writing of all history had once been that one must begin with the beginning. But to Wellhausen, Stade, Eduard Meyer and Kittel and Cornill, it has been clear that the history of the earliest times is the most uncertain. It is the least adapted to furnish a secure point of departure for historical inquiry. There exist for it usually no contemporary authorities, or only such as are of problematical worth. This earliest period constitutes a problem, the solution of which, so far as any solution is possible, can be hoped for only through approach from the side of ascertained facts. We must start from a period which is historically known. For the history of the Hebrews, this is the time of the first prophets of whom we have written records, or from whom we have written prophecies. We get from these, as also from the earliest direct attempts at history writing, only that conception of Israel’s pre-historic life which was entertained in prophetic circles in the eighth century. We learn the heroic legends in the interpretation which the prophets put upon them. We have still to seek to interpret them for ourselves. We must begin in the middle and work both backward and forward. Such a view of the history of Israel affords every opportunity for the connecting of the history and religion of Israel with those of the other Semite stocks. Some of these have in recent years been discovered to offer extraordinary parallels to that which the Old Testament relates.
THE HISTORY OF DOCTRINE
When speaking of Baur’s contribution to New Testament criticism, we alluded to his historical works. He was in a distinct sense a reformer of the method of the writing of church history. To us the notions of the historical and of that which is genetic are identical. Of course, naive religious chronicles do not meet that test. A glance at the histories produced by the age of rationalism will show that these also fall short of it. The perception of the relativity of institutions like the papacy