Archaeology and Criticism
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The Christian View of the Old Testament
... Archaeological material, 123 f. Archaeology, 110 ff. Ashurbanipal, 140. ... Babylon,
fall of, 141. Benefits of criticism, 105 ff. Bible and Reason, 33 f. ...
/.../eiselen/the christian view of the old testament/index 2.htm

The Glory of the Cross
... of all modern advance in theological knowledge, so far as that is not concerned
with questions of literature, history, archaeology, and textual criticism. ...
// crucis/i the glory of the.htm

... Biblical Archaeology, in its broadest sense, with the things of the Bible; Biblical
Introduction, treating of the fortunes, and Biblical Criticism, supplying ...
/.../drummond/introduction to the new testament/prolegomena.htm

... Less attention has been given to questions of geography and archaeology than to ... to
the editors of this series for helpful suggestions and criticism during the ...
// life of jesus of nazareth/preface.htm

Chapter xlvi
... of patriarchal days, as it is established by the researches of archaeology). ... Criticism
does not see this simple fact, for according to its critical canons vv.1 ...
/...// of genesis volume 1/chapter xlvi.htm

... The discoveries of Oriental archaeology have come with a rude shock to disturb both
the conclusions of this imperfectly-equipped criticism and the principles ...
/.../sayce/early israel and the surrounding nations/introduction.htm

The Mythical Hypothesis of Strauss.
... of the Jewish and Heathen world, and the searching criticism of an ... The few occasional
references to geography, archaeology, and secular history, only confirm ...
/.../schaff/the person of christ/the mythical hypothesis of strauss.htm

The New Testament view of the Old Testament
... and in the pursuit of his work four distinct tests have been applied to the Old
Testament: the tests of science, of criticism, of archaeology, and of ...
/.../eiselen/the christian view of the old testament/chapter i the new testament.htm

... Barton, Archaeology and the Bible, (Philadelphia, 1937), p.56-61, gives the beginner
a good idea how these computations are made and how far back ... 6. Criticism. ...
/...// of genesis volume 1/introduction.htm

The Bible in the Life of To-Day
... Scholarly opinion will tell any one who asks that criticism has not affected the ...
On the other hand, the net result of such studies as archaeology has been the ...
/.../mcafee/study of the king james bible/lecture vi the bible in.htm

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia
Archaeology and Criticism


ar-ke-ol'-o-ji, krit'-i-siz'-m: Archaeology, the science of antiquities, is in this article limited to the Biblical field, a field which has been variously delimited (De Wette, 1814, Gesenius), but which properly includes not only all ancient facts bearing upon the Bible which had been lost and have been recovered, but all literary remains of antiquity bearing upon the Bible and, also, as of the first importance, the Bible itself (Hogarth, Authority and Archaeology, vi).

Scope of Article:

Criticism, the art of scrutiny, is here limited mainly, though not exclusively, to the literary criticism of the Bible, now, following Eichhorn, commonly called the Higher Criticism. Thus "Archaeology and Criticism," the title of this article, is meant to designate the bearing of the archaeology of Bible lands upon the criticism, especially the Higher Criticism, of the Bible. The subject as thus defined calls for the discussion of, I. What archaeology can do in the case-the powers, rights and authority, that is to say, the Function of archaeology in criticism; and II. What archaeology has done in the case, the resulting effects of such archaeological evidence, that is to say, the History of the bearing of archaeology upon the criticism of the Bible.

I. Function.

The function of archaeology in criticism has only recently been given much attention and the opinions thereon have varied greatly.

(a) Ignored by Encyclopaedists:

Biblical encyclopaedists generally, until the most recent, have not given this subject a place at all (Hastings Dictionary of the Bible, Encyclopedia Biblica, Smith, Dictionary of the Bible, Kitto, Encyclopedia of Biblical Literature, Hamburger, See Hauck-Herzog, Realencyklopadie fur protestantische Theologie und Kirche, Eadie, Biblical Encyclopedia). McClintock and Strong's Encyclopedia Biblical and Ecclesiastical Literature has an article on "Biblical Archeology" consisting entirely of bibliography, also an article of a general character under "Sac. Ant." The New Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge Encyclopedia has an article, The Catholic Encyclopedia, 1907, has an article under the title "Biblical Antiquities," and the Jewish Encyclopedia, 1902, has an article of five pages on "Biblical Archeology" But on the function of archaeology in criticism there is almost nothing anywhere.

(b) Variously Estimated by Critics:

Critics have varied much in their estimate of the value of archaeology in criticism, according to their individual predilections and their critical theories, but until very recently archaeology has not generally been given a commanding, or even a prominent, place in criticism. Wellhausen seems to declare for the dominance of archaeology in criticism in the beginning of his History of Israel, though he very much ignores it in the pages that follow (History of Israel, 12). Driver (Authority and Archaeology, 143-50), thinks "testimony of archaeology sometimes determines the question decisively," but is "often strangely misunderstood," and the defeats of criticism at the hands of archaeology are often "purely imaginary" (LOT, 1897, 4). Orr thinks "archaeology bids fair before long to control both criticism and history" (POT, 305-435). Eerdmans, successor to Kuenen at Leyden, definitely and absolutely breaks with the Wellhausen school of criticism, chiefly on the ground that archaeology has discredited their viewpoint and the historical atmosphere with which they have surrounded the Old Testament. Wiener, the most prominent of recent Jewish critics, also believes that a proper apprehension of the nature of ancient institutions, customs, documents and codes, i.e. archaeology, and especially the archaeology of the Bible itself, is clearly decisive in its influence on the issue raised by the Wellhausen school (BS, 1908-10).

(c) Urged by Archaeologists:

Archaeologists generally for a long time have been putting forward the superior claims of their science in the critical controversy (Brugsch, Egypt under the Pharaohs; Naville, Recueil de Travaux, IV, N.S.; Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities, chapters i-iv; Researches in Sinai, 188-223; Spiegelberg, Aufenthalt Israels in Aegypten; Steindorf, Explorations in Bible Lands (Hilprecht), 623-90; Sayce, Higher Criticism and the Monuments; Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition, xi; Jeremias, Das alte Testament im Lichte des alten Orients).

The function of archaeology in criticism, as fully brought to light by recent discussion, is as follows:

1. Historical Setting.

Archaeology furnishes the true historical setting of Scripture. In the criticism of a painting, it is of the utmost importance to hang the picture aright before criticism begins. It is not greatly different in the criticism of literature, and especially Biblical literature. The patriarchs and prophets and psalmists are the "old masters" of spirituality and of religious literature; their productions were brought forth under certain social, political, moral and religious conditions, and within certain surroundings of influences, enemies, opportunities, temptations and spiritual privileges. It is only archaeology that can hang their pictures aright, and it is only when thus hung that true criticism is ready to begin. The critic is only then a critic when he has seen how archaeology has hung the picture (BST, 1906, 366).

2. Guidance to Methods.

Archaeology gives guidance to the methods of criticism. This it does; (a) Presuppositions:

With regard to presuppositions. Presuppositions are inevitable from our mental constitutions, and necessary to the consideration of any subject, since all subjects cannot be considered at once. But our presuppositions are naturally, to a large extent, those induced by our own experience and environment, until we are otherwise instructed. As it is only archaeology that is able to instruct us concerning the exact circumstances of certain portions of the Bible it is evident that, in those portions, without the instruction which archaeology can give, we cannot be assured of correct presuppositions in the critic.

(b) Canons:

Archaeology gives guidance concerning the canons of criticism. It is of the utmost importance that a literature should be judged only by the canons followed by its own literati. The innumerable literary remains of Egypt and Babylonia reveal methods and standards very different from each other, and still more different from those of modern western literature, but exhibiting to a marked degree the literary peculiarities of the Old Testament. In Babylonian literature, much attention is paid to epochal chronology. In Egyptian literature, comparatively little attention is given to chronology, and what chronology there is, is seldom epochal, but either synchronistic or merely historianic. In the Old Testament there is a mixture of all these kinds of chronology. Again, in Babylonian literature, there is carefulness and some degree of accuracy; in Egyptian literature, carelessness, slovenliness and inaccuracy are provokingly frequent. The Scriptures of the Old Testament are, in this respect, in striking contrast to these other literatures, ye t nowhere in ancient oriental literature is there the mathematical rigidity of statement demanded in occidental literature today; on the other hand there is frequently a brevity and abruptness of literary method which, to western minds, appears to be fragmentariness of documents. The attempt to elucidate oriental literature in the Bible and out of it by applying thereto the tests and standards of western literature is not less disastrous than would be the attempt to judge western literature by these oriental peculiarities.

(c) Literary Form:

Archaeology gives guidance concerning literary form. Much of the definiteness and unity of modern literature is due to the arts of printing and book-binding. All archaeological literature of Bible lands, lacking, as it does, the influence of these arts, is, in form, indefinite, or fragmentary, or both. These peculiarities in form and the causes of the same, archaeology makes very plain by abundant illustration. It makes clear, also, that fragmentariness and indefiniteness in oriental literature, in so far as it arises from the literary form and not from partial destruction of documents, in no wise militates against integrity.

(d) Interpretation:

Archaeology gives guidance concerning interpretation. Archaeology admonishes us of the truism, too often overlooked, that a language or literature means only what it is understood to mean by those from whom it comes, so that the etymological, syntactical and speculative methods of interpretation employed in criticism, in order to be reliable, must have the support of the historical method. In the absence of this support, more especially if contemporary history as revealed by archaeology be antagonistic, interpretation, though supported by all the other methods of criticism, is very precarious. The interpretation of a rubric by the etymological and analytical methods may be partly or completely overthrown by a single picture or a brief description of the priest at the altar. For instance, it is very disquieting to compare the remarks of commentators on Bible references to the worship at high places with the facts revealed by the recent discovery of high places and the worship there conducted (Macalister, PEFS, 1903, 23-31; Robinson, BW, January, 1901; January, 1908, 219-25, 317-18; Vincent, Canaan, 144). Archaeology must guide in the interpretation of ancient literature, whether that which has just been dug up, as the recent finds of manuscripts and monuments, or that which has never been lost, as in the Bible itself.

3. Facts to Test Theories.

Archaeology supplies facts wherewith to test theories.

Facts and Correct Criticism Agree:

There can be no real antagonism between the facts of archaeology and a correct literary criticism of trustworthy documents. But who or what is to determine when the criticism is correct? If there is conflict between the facts of archaeology and the conclusions of criticism, which must give way? To ask the question is to answer it. Theory must always give way to facts. "Where the testimony of archaeology is direct, it is of the highest possible value, and, as a rule, determines a question decisively; even where it is indirect, if it is sufficiently circumstantial and precise, it may make a settlement highly probable" (Driver, Authority and Archaeology, 143). This prerogative of archaeological facts in the testing of critical theories must, then, of necessity be given wide and positive recognition.

(a) Theories Need Attestation:

No theory is to be finally accepted and made applicable to faith and life until tested and attested by facts; if it be a theory in the field of Nature, by the facts of Nature; if in the field of experience, by facts of experience; if in the field of history, byfacts of history. The Master brings even revelation to this test when He says, "If any man willeth to do his will, he shall know of the teaching, whether it is of God, or whether I speak from myself" (John 7:17). Anything in the Bible may be discredited by theory; as everything in heaven and earth may be-indeed, has been-discredited by theory. One might as safely abandon the beaten track for the most alluring but unconfirmed appearance of an eastern desert, as turn one's life aside to a theory unattested by fact. However perfect the appearance, it may, after all, be only the mirage, and the disappointed pilgrim may never get back to the safe road. Let theory first be confirmed by fact; then it may be received into the life.

(b) Success not Attestation:

Even a theory which meets all the known conditions of the case in hand is not by that fact proved to be true, and therefore to be received into the life. The most alluring danger to which criticism is subject is the contrary assumption that a theory which meets all the known conditions of the case in hand is thereby proved to be true. This is not the case. Such a theory must, in addition, be corroborated by facts independently brought to light, or by mysteries unlocked; and even if mysteries be unlocked, the theory is not necessarily an entirely correct theory-the key that turns the lock must be something like the key that belongs to it, but may after all, be a false key. There must, in any case, whether of mysteries unlocked or of facts otherwise brought to light, be independent, genuine evidence in addition to the adaptability of theory to all the known conditions of the case in hand. And furthermore, a theory must not only be able to meet the test of some additional facts, but the test of all the conditions imposed by any additional facts brought to light, and be able, also, to incorporate these new facts as naturally as those upon which theory was originally constructed.

(1) Theory in Life:

The problem is not to determine one or several of the ways in which an event might have taken place, but the one way in which it did take place. A theory which meets all the conditions of the case in hand may be one of the several ways in which the event might have taken place, but only by independent, genuine, corroborative evidence is any theory to be attested as the way in which the event actually did take place. That this statement of the case is correct in the experiences of life, we have abundant evidence in the proceedings of courts of law. The most careful procedure does not wholly prevent false convictions. The prosecutor presents a theory of the commission of a crime which meets all the conditions of the case as made out by the evidence, convinces twelve jurymen, and secures a conviction. Yet sometimes afterward it is found out that another person committed the crime in an entirely different way. That the dictum under discussion is inapplicable to literature is equally well established. Sir Peter LePage Renouf argued with great acuteness and force that it is possible to assign significations to an unknown script, give meanings to the words thus formed, construct a grammar and translate inscriptions as historical statements and make good sense, though not a single sign, or word, or construction, or thought be correct (Life-work, I, 6, 7). He says of such a method: "It is not difficult to make out the Ten Commandments, the Psalms of David, the Homeric Poems, or the Irish Melodies, on any ancient or modern monument whatever, and in any language you please."

(2) Theory in Literature:

Actual examples in fulfillment of Renouf's warning thesis are not wanting. The grotesque, yet confident, efforts at the decipherment of the Egyptian hieroglyphs before the discovery of the Rosetta Stone are not forgotten. Dr. Budge says (The Mummy, 124): "In more modern times the first writer at any length on hieroglyphics was Athanasius Kircher, the author of some ponderous works in which he pretended to have found the key to the hieroglyphic inscriptions, and to translate them. Though a man of great learning, it must be plainly said that, judged by scholars of today, he would be considered an impostor." Joseph de Guignes (1770) maintained that China was settled by Egyptians, and the Chinese characters only degenerate Egyptian hieroglyphs. Similar failures in the attempt to decipher the Hittite hieroglyphs and translate the Hittite inscriptions must form painful recollections to distinguished scholars yet living, whose efforts, extending in some cases not only to lists of signs but to syllabaries, vocabularies, grammars and translations, are now, in part, and in some cases, in toto, rejected by the whole learned world. However successful present or future efforts of these scholars may prove to be, they have, in part at least, themselves repudiated their former work. The most plausible theory of a literature, though it seem to embrace every detail, may, after all, be found to be, as in one or two of the instances referred to above, wholly false when tested by the principles of philology and the facts of contemporary history.

(3) Theory in History:

The dangers of unconfirmed theory in life and literature are even greater in history, which, in its present-day form, is but life written down, human experiences given over to all the accidents and conventionalities of literature. The warnings here from Egyptian and classical history and literature are not to be disregarded. Menes and other early kings of Egypt were declared by critics to be mere mythological characters; likewise Minos of Crete; and the stories of Troy and her heroes were said to belong to "cloudland." But the spades of Petrie at Abydos (Royal Tombs), of Evans at Knossos (Quarterly Review, October, 1904, 374-95), and of Schliemann at Troy (Ilios: City and Country of the Trojans), have shown the "cloudland" as solid earth, and the ghostly heroes to be substantial men of flesh and blood. If we are to learn anything from experience, certainly no theory of either sacred or profane history is to be accepted as final until tested and attested by facts.

(c) Source of the Needed Facts:

Only archaeology is bringing forth any new facts on the questions raised by criticism. Criticism produces only theories; it combines facts, but produces none. Exegetes and commentators rarely, if ever, now bring to light new facts any more than present-day philosophers give the world new thoughts. A flood of light is, indeed, pouring across the page of the exegete and the commentator in these latter days which makes their work inestimably more helpful for interpretation, but the source of that light is neither criticism nor exegesis, but archaeology. Archaeology it is which sets alongside the Bible history the facts of contemporary life and thus illustrates Biblical literature and literary methods by contemporary literature and the methods of contemporary literati, and which makes the purity, sanctity and divinity of the things of revelation stand out in their own glorious light by setting round about them the shadows of contemporary ritual and morality and superstition.

(d) Scope of Function:

Hence, no critical theory of the Bible is to be finally accepted and made a part of our faith until tested and attested by archaeological facts. Even Wellhausen, however far he departs from this principle in the course of his criticism, seems to lay it down as fundamental in the beginning of his History of Israel, when he says: "From the place where the conflagration was first kindled the fire men keep away; I mean the domain of religious antiquities and dominant religious ideas-that whole region as Vatke in his Biblical Theology has marked it out. But only here, where the conflict was kindled, can it be brought to a definite conclusion" (History of Israel, 12). G. A. Smith quotes also with approval these words from Napoleon (Campagnes d'Egypte et de Syrie dictees par Napoleon lui-meme, II): "When camping upon the ruins of the ancient cities, someone read the Bible aloud every evening in the tent of the General-in-Chief. The verisimilitude and the truthfulness of the descriptions were striking. Th ey are still suited to the land after all the ages and the vicissitudes." But Dr. Smith adds, "This is not more than true, yet it does not carry us very far.. All that geography can do is to show whether or not the situations are possible at the time to which they are assigned; even this is a task often beyond our resources" (HGHL, 108). Thus critics, while here and there acknowledging the proper function of archaeology in criticism, have not heretofore allowed it much scope in the exercise of that function.

II. History.

Limitations of Discussion:

The history of archaeology in criticism to be set forth here has mainly to do with the testing of critical theories by archaeological facts. The contributions of archaeology to the furnishing of the historical setting of the Biblical narratives make up a large part of this and every dictionary of the Bible. The history of the guidance of critical methods by archaeological information is in the making. There can hardly as yet be said to be any to record.

A Wide Field:

The field opened up for the testing of critical theories by the results of archaeological research is so varied and so extended that only an outline can be given here. Extravagant claims concerning the outcome of this testing have been made both by some critics and by some of their opponents; as when Dr. Driver says, after except the points upon which the evidence of archaeology is neutral, "On all other points the facts of archaeology, so far as they are at present known, harmonize entirely with the position generally adopted by the critics" (Authority and Archaeology, 145); or as when the astronomer, C. Piazzi Smyth, thought that the great pyramid proved the "wisdom of the Egyptians" to have included some of the abstruse problems of higher mathematics; and Dr. Seiss, in his Miracle in Stone, was confident that the same colossal monument of Egypt definitely portrayed some of the extreme positions of the premillennial theology.

Some of the instances of the testing of critical theories concerning the Scriptures by the facts of archaeology, for which unquestionable historical proofs can be offered, are here presented.

1. Theories Not Affecting Historicity or Integrity.

Many critical theories, notably those not affecting the historicity or the integrity of the Scriptures, i.e. accordant with the face value of Scripture, have been corroborated and others discredited.

(a) Theories corroborated:

(1) Geography and Topography:

The theory of the geographical and topographical trustworthiness of Scripture, i.e. that the peoples, places and events of Scripture are to be found just where the Bible places them. Attempts to belittle the importance of this geographical and topographical corroboration of the trustworthiness of the Scriptures have been made (Driver, Authority and Archaeology, 148; also LOT, xi; Smith, HGHL, 108), but such attempts are not satisfying. The theory of the correctness of the Biblical statements has been of well-nigh universal acceptance; archaeologists have fitted out expensive expeditions in accordance with it, exegesis has allowed it to enter into its conclusions, discussion has proceeded upon the assumption of its correctness, the whole body of identifications which make up Biblical geography and topography attest it, and the whole list of sacred geographies, uniform in every essential particular, are in evidence in support of this theory, even the works of those writers who have spoken disparagingly of it.

(2) Story of the Nations:

The theory of the ethnographical correctness of Scripture. That the relation between peoples as indicated in Scripture is correct, has been a working theory for all general purposes and only departed from for special ends. Kautzsch says (Die bleibende Bedeutung des Alttestaments, 17): "The so-called Table of Nations remains, according to all the results of monumental exploration, an ethnographic original document of the first rank, which nothing can replace." The progress of archaeological research has confirmed this general working theory and every year adds new confirmation with regard to particular items which, for some special end, have been represented as against theory. That the general theory of the correctness of the tribal relationships in Scripture has been, and is being, sustained, is indisputable (Hommel, Ancient Hebrew Tradition; Gunkel, Israel und Babylonien, chapter vi; Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine, chapter ii; Winckler, OLZ, December 15, 1906; Budge, History of Egypt, I; Orr, POT, 400-401, 529-30). See TABLE OF NATIONS.

(3) Accuracy of Scripture:

The theory of the accuracy of Scripture in both the originals and the copies. Every theory of inspiration postulates this in greater or less degree, and the most prevalent analytical theory put forth by criticism, with its lists of words indicating, as it is asserted, authorship, demands, for its very life, a degree of accuracy and invariableness in the use of words in both the writing of originals and the transmission of them by copyists greater than that demanded by any the most exacting theory of inspiration. Wherever it has been possible to test the statements of Scripture in its multitudinous historical notices and references, archaeology has found it correct to a remarkable degree, and that in its present form and even in minute peculiarities of statement (Brugsch, Broderick edition, Egypt under the Pharaohs, chapters v-vi; Sayce, Patriarchal Palestine; Naville, Recueil de Travaux, IV, N.S.; Petrie, Tahpanhes; Tompkins, The Age of Abraham; Clay, Light on the Old Testament from Babel).

(4) Bible Imagery:

The theory of the correctness of the imagery of the Bible. This is another of the fundamental and universal working theories of criticism which is, however, sometimes forgotten. Whatever theory of the authorship and the origin of the various books of the Bible, there is always, with only a few special exceptions, the underlying assumption on the part of the critics of the correctness of the imagery reflecting the topography, the flora and the fauna, the seasons and the customs. Indeed, upon the trustworthiness of the imagery, as upon the exactness in the use of words, criticism depends. And this underlying assumption of criticism of every hue has been confirmed indisputably in its general features, and is being corroborated year by year in its minutest details, and even in those very special instances where it has been disputed. To this end testify the whole company of oriental residents, intelligent travelers and scientific investigators (Thomson; Van Lennap; Robinson; Stanley; Palmer, Desert of the Exodus; Trumbull, Kadesh Barnea; Clermont-Ganneau, Archaeological Researches; Van Dyke, Out of Doors in the Holy Land).

Besides these theories of a general character, some concerning particulars may be noticed:

(5) Garden of Eden:

The theory of the location of the Garden of Eden somewhere in the Euphrates Valley. This theory has been all but universally held and, while it is not yet definitely of substantiated, is receiving cumulative corroboration along ethnological lines. Wherever it is possible to trace back the lines of emigration of the early nations mentioned in the Bible, it is always found that the ultimate direction is toward a certain comparatively small area in western Asia.

(6) The Flood:

The geological theory concerning the flood of Noah as the last great change in land levels is being most exactly confirmed, not only by investigations into glacial history, but by examination of the records of the cataclysm left upon the mountains and valleys of central and western Asia (Wright, The Ice Age in North America; and Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, chapters vii-xi). See DELUGE OF NOAH.

(7) Sodom and Gomorrah:

The geological theory of the destruction of the Cities of the Plain has been exactly confirmed by the examination of the strata; a bituminous region, a great stratum of rock-salt capped by sulphur-bearing marls and conglomerates cemented by bitumen, an explosion of pent-up gases, which collect in such geological formations, blowing the burning brimstone high in the air, and the waters of the Jordan coming down to dissolve the salt of the ruptured rock-salt stratum-all this provides for exactly what the Bible describes and for the conditions found there today; the pillar of smoke rising up to heaven, the rain of fire and brimstone falling back from the blowing-off crater, the catching of Lot's wife in the edge of the cataclysm and her encrustation with salt (Wright, Scientific Confirmations of Old Testament History, 144; Blankenkorn, ZDPV, XIX, 1).

(8) Hyksos and Patriarchs:

It has long been thought that there might be some relationship between the mysterious Hyksos kings of Egypt and the Patriarchs to account for the favorable reception, even royal distinction, given the latter. This theory of relationship has been very fully established by the discoveries of Petrie at Tell el-Yehudiyeh (Petrie, Hyksos and Israelite Cities, 1-16). He has not shown to what race the Hyksos belonged, but he has shown their tribal character, that they were, as their name indicates, "Bedouin princes," leaders of the nomadic or semi-nomadic tribes of Upper and Lower Ruthen, i.e. Syria and Palestine, and northern and western Arabia, as were the Patriarchs, so that the latter were shown by the former the consideration of one "Bedouin prince" for another.

(b) Theories Discredited:

(1) Uncivilized Canaan:

The interesting picture which was wont to be drawn of Abraham leaving all his friends and civilization behind him to become a pioneer in a barbarous land has become dim and dimmer and at last faded out completely in the ever-increasing light of contemporary history revealed by Babylonian and Palestinian discoveries (Vincent, Canaan, chapters i-ii).

(2) Concerning Melchizedek:

Concerning Melchizedek, "without father and without mother" (Hebrews 7:3), Tell el-Amarna Letters, while not wholly affording the needed information, have put to flight a host of imaginings of old commentators, and pointed toward Melchizedek's place in a line of kings at Jerusalem of unique title disclaiming any hereditary rights in the crown. "It was not my father and it was not my mother who established me in this position, but it was the mighty arm of the king himself who made me master of the lands and possessions of my father." This title, over the correct translation of which there has been much controversy, occurs not once only, but seems to have been required at every formal mention of the sovereignty of the king (Budge, History of Egypt, IV, 231-35).

(3) Oriental Chronology:

The theory of the chronology of the early portions of the Old Testament, which made it to be so exactly on the principle of the system of chronology in vogue in our western world today, which, indeed, assumed that there could be no other system of chronology, and which was universally held as a working hypothesis by all classes of critics and commentators until very recently, has been greatly modified, if not utterly discredited, by both archaeological and ethnological research. Whatever may have been the system and method of chronology in use in early Biblical history, it certainly was not the same as our epochal chronology based upon exact astronomical time. The early chronologies of the Orient were usually historianic, oftentimes synchronistic, but very seldom epochal. The first, and usually the only, intent of present-day chronology is to chronicle the flight of time; the ancient systems of the East often introduced a moral element; events, rather than time, were chronicled, and the time in which nothing took place and the man who accomplished nothing were apt to be passed over in silence. Sometimes chronicles were arranged symmetrically, and again the visional conception of time found in all prophecy seems sometimes to have prevailed in the writing of history. Certain it is that ancient oriental thought regarded man's relation to life as of far greater importance than his relation to time-a more deeply moral conception of chronology than our own (Green, BS, April, 1890, 285-303).

2. Theories Affecting the Integrity or Historicity of Scripture.

Many critical theories attacking the integrity or historicity of Scripture, i.e. reconstructive theories, have been utterly discredited by archaeological evidence, and, in some cases, abandoned by those who held them (compare Driver, Genesis, addenda, 7th edition, xx).

(a) Ignorance of Patriarchal Age:

The ignorance of the patriarchal age was once a frontier fortress which threatened away all literary pretensions beyond that limit.

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Archaeology and Criticism

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