(The Graf-Wellhausen Hypothesis)


1. Thesis

2. Historical Perspective

3. Inspiration and Criticism


1. Groups

2. Covenant Code

3. The Sanctuary

4. Kinds of Sacrifice

5. Sacrifice in General

6. Vestments

7. Priests and Levites

8. Dues

9. Miscellaneous

10. Summary

11. Additional Note


1. Chronicles

2. Kings, etc.

3. The Conquest

4. Ideas of God

5. Priesthood

6. Summary


1. Covenant Code

2. Deuteronomy

3. Later

4. Evaluation


I. Preliminary.

1. Thesis:

In Jer 7:22,23 we read: "For I spake not unto your fathers, nor commanded them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt-offerings or sacrifices: but this thing I commanded them, saying, Hearken unto my voice, and I will be your God, and ye shall be my people." It is the contention of the present article that this statement of the prophet is correct (compare II, 5).

More specifically, it is contended that evidence can be produced from the Old Testament to show that Israel’s religion can be seen in a long period of growth; and in this growth a fixed sacrificial law, with a minutely regulated ritual obligatory on all Israelites, the culmination and not the beginning of the process. It is contended, moreover, that this conception of the development of the institutional side of the religion of the Old Testament is attained by the strictest evaluation of all the Old Testament evidence and by no a priori considerations.

2. Historical Perspective:

To be sure, one is met at once in the Old Testament by what seem to be complete denials of this point of view. In the Pentateuch we find statement after statement that a given law was due not to some late author but to Moses himself, and there are numerous passages in the historical books (most notably in Chronicles) that speak of these laws as in effect from the earliest times. Such evidence must be paid all possible respect and must be overruled only on the most imperative considerations.

However, if for the moment the books of the Old Testament be viewed only as historical documents, it will be admitted that the possibility of overruling such evidence may well arise. And it may very well arise without calling in question in the slightest degree the good faith of the writers of questioned passages; for an acquisition of historical perspective comes very late in intellectual evolution, particularly--though not only--in the realm of religious history. Even the trained scholar has to be on his guard lest he read back the concepts of his own time into some past generation, while the non-specialist never succeeds in avoiding this error completely. For the uncultured mind, especially for the Oriental, the problem scarcely exists. That which is generally accepted and which is not obviously novel tends to be classified as that which "always has been." A law so old that its actual source is forgotten is referred as a matter of course to some great lawgiver of the past. A custom that in a writer’s own day is universally observed by the pious must always have been observed by the pious. Even documentary evidence to the contrary is not convincing to such a writer, for that documents may be wrong is not a modern discovery. To be sure, the older document may be copied mechanically or the discrepancy may not even be noticed. But it is never surprising when we find a writer simply accrediting the pious men of old with the customs of his own day, since even documentary evidence to the contrary he felt could not be right. This is not forgery, as we understand the word, nor need there be the faintest moral reproach connected with such conduct. Quite on the contrary, such a writer may well be acting in the only sense that the conscience of any man of his generation could conceive right.

3. Inspiration and Criticism:

However, the Old Testament is not a mere collection of human documents, and another question arises. Does the acceptance of inspiration compel us to assume that in every case a writer’s ordinary historical methods were entirely overruled? The question is a rather broad one and does not relate merely to the correct transmission of historic facts. To be asked, rather, is this: Did God present to His instruments a mechanically accurate set of past facts which would give a conception of history that no one of the sacred writer’s generation could understand? Or did He suffer His revelation to find expression in terms of the current conceptions of history, much as we are accustomed to say it found expression in terms of the current conceptions of science? A full discussion of the various theological arguments involved would be quite outside the province of an article of this Encyclopedia, but reference must be made to two important Biblical arguments:

(1) In a question which thus affects the amount covered by the inspiration of the Bible, quotations from the Bible itself beg the question when adduced to show entire infallibility. So appeals to the New Testament are hardly helpful. Moreover, they prove too much. In Jude 1:14,15 there is a quotation from the Book of Enoch (1:9), which is made in the most formal manner possible. But will anyone maintain that this compels us to believe that our Book of Enoch was actually written by Enoch, the seventh from Adam? Yet if the quotation had been taken from an Old Testament work, precisely this would have been maintained.

(2) Far more important is the use of the Old Testament by Christ, for here a quite different authority comes in. But the question must be asked: Just how far did our Lord’s use of a passage involve ratification of all the current ideas about that passage? A good answer is supplied by Ac 1:6,7. When He is asked, "Dost thou at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?" we know that the pedantically "correct" answer would have been, "The kingdom never will be restored to Israel in any such sense as ye conceive of it." Yet this is precisely what Christ does not say. "It is not for you to know times or seasons." No hint was given at all that the kingdom was universal, for the disciples would find that out for themselves in good time. In order that they should be able to do God’s work there was no need to bewilder them with a truth as yet altogether revolutionary. And any close student of the "Kingdom of God" passages soon realizes how often Christ uses current terminology without comment, even when it seems almost materialistic. A literal exegesis of Lu 22:18 would necessitate believing that grapes will grow in the world to come and that Christ will drink wine made from them, and almost certainly the disciples gathered just this idea from the words. But no one today finds them in the least a difficulty. The exact extent of the kingdom and the exact nature of the happiness in it were irrelevant to what the disciples had to do. And so it cannot be thought an injustice to treat Christ’s use of the Old Testament by exactly the same rules, all the more as nowhere, not even in Mr 12:36, does the argument turn on the original human author or the date of writing. What Christ Himself, in His inner consciousness, knew on the subject is something beyond our immediate data. But His use of the Old Testament lends no support to a Kenotic theory, not even on the wildest Old Testament critical hypotheses.

See Kenosis.

II. The Legislation.

As is well known, among the laws of the Pentateuch there exist several well-marked groups, of which the most formal is De 12-26.

1. Groups:

Another such group is Le 17-26 or the Holiness Code (H), and still another is Ex 20:22-23:19 or the Covenant Code (CC). With this last is closely connected the Decalogue and the little compend Ex 34:17-26. Now it will be convenient for present purposes to designate the remaining mass of Pentateuchal legislation under the non- committal symbol X.

2. Covenant Code:

Now, in what follows, the prescriptions of the various codes will be compared with each other in regard to the various institutions of Israel’s religion and also studied in the wider evidence of the historical books. The evidence of Chronicles, however, will be omitted for the most part, as a separate section is devoted to it (III, 1).

3 The Sanctuary:

(2) Ezekiel is the first prophet who makes the place of sacrifice a matter of paramount importance, and this importance of the place is, in the Pentateuch, emphasized primarily in Deuteronomy. It is needless to collect the familiar evidence from Deuteronomy, but an illuminating comparison with Covenant Code is given by the laws for firstlings. No longer is the firstling given on the eighth day. It must be kept, but not worked or shorn, until the time when "year by year" it may be eaten in the chosen place (De 15:19,20). So now the fruits of the field and the "presses" are not offered "without delay" but again "year by year," with a provision for turning them into money if the way be too long to the sanctuary (De 14:22-27). Deuteronomy and Covenant Code evidently have distinct conceptions--and again attention may be called to the fact that Covenant Code contains laws for Palestine, not for the wilderness. The Law of Holiness (H), Le 17-26, is as explicit as Deuteronomy--sacrifice anywhere except at the Tent is a capital offense (Le 17:8,9). And the evidence of X need not be collected, but, passing out of the Pentateuch for the moment, Jos 22:10-34 represents Israel as understanding from the first entrance into Canaan that sacrifice at any altar but the one was the worst of crimes.

(3) How is the offering of sacrifices in various places by such men as Samuel to be explained? That the worship was disorganized and the proper sanctuary could not be reached is hardly an explanation. For no disorganization of the country could be great enough to justify the offering of sacrifices in places not only unauthorized but flatly forbidden in Le 17:8,9. On theory of Mosaic origin for the whole of the Pentateuchal legislation, Samuel knew as much about the clear statements of the Law as does any Jew of today, but it is clearly enough recognized by all Jews that no disorganization of the county or Divine reprobation of the Temple justifies sacrifice in any other place. A key, however, seems to be found in De 12:8-11, where sacrifice in various places is actually authorized until such a time as the land should be pacified and the Divine choice given to a place--a time represented in the history of Israel as about the time of David, or perhaps Solomon. This certainly does explain the situation as it is found in Samuel-Kings. Only, it is in flat contradiction with H and X.

This point is important. De 12:8-11 not only represents sacrifice in various places as permitted until some later time, but it represents Moses and the Israelites as practicing the same things in the wilderness--"the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes; for ye are not as yet come," etc.; i.e. Deuteronomy’s conception was that in the wilderness Moses and the Israelites offered sacrifice wherever they thought good. This was to continue until God gave them rest from their enemies round about. Then the sacrifices were to be brought to the chosen place and to be offered nowhere else. Now, the conception in H and X is wholly different. On the mount Moses received directions for the building of the Tabernacle, with its altar. From the beginning it was a capital offense to offer sacrifices on any other altar than this (Le 17:8,9), which was carried everywhere on the wanderings and brought into Canaan. In the very days of Phinehas, the offering of sacrifices on a different altar was enough to make civil war justifiable (Jos 22:12). For further discussion see III, 2.

(4) The difficulties of these data are obvious but are completely satisfied by the assumption that different conceptions of past history are present. Deuteronomy belongs to a period when the unity of the sanctuary had become an established fact, but still before the memory of the many altars as comparatively legitimate was extinguished. H and X, however, belong to a considerably later day, when the unity of the sanctuary had been so long taken for granted that no pious Israelite could conceive that anything else had ever existed. The reference of the commands to Moses is altogether in oriental manner.

NOTE.--Ex 20:24 has not been used in the above argument, but with the evidence presented there seems to be no obstacle to the translations of the EV. The familiar evidence of Judges is of course merely cumulative.

Le 1-7 contains a list of the various kinds of sacrifices:

4. Kinds of Sacrifice:

(a) the sin offering and the trespass offering, very elaborately treated and obviously of the highest importance;

(b) the whole burnt offering and the peace offering; and, standing a little by itself, the meal offering.

5. Sacrifice in General:

The problem presented by Jer 7:22 is a very serious one. Obviously, to say that the command to offer sacrifice was not given on the day of the Exodus but on Sinai, is quite unsatisfactory, for this would make Jeremiah quibble. He denies categorically that a command to offer sacrifice was part of the Divine Law at all. Now, if it be noted that the offering of firstlings and first-fruits was altogether distinct from the regular sacrifices, it will be seen that Jer can very well presuppose Covenant Code or even Deuteronomy, both of which contain only regulative prescriptions for sacrifice. (Whether Jeremiah actually did conceive Covenant Code and Deuteronomy as binding is another question.) But by what exegesis of the passage can Jeremiah pre-suppose X? The natural inference is that the regulations of X became obligatory on Israel after Jeremiah’s day.

6. Vestments:

What follows is in itself an infinitesimal matter but the evidence is significant. The prohibition of steps for the altar in Ex 20:26 is based on the fact that the ministrants X were very scantily clad (compare the light clothing of pilgrims at Mecca). This is corroborated in 2Sa 6:14,20-22, where Michal reproves David for exposing himself. But in the priests wear rather elaborate vestments, over linen breeches (Ex 28:42). And, to call in Chronicles for the moment, this is the conception found there of David’s religious zeal at the bringing in of the ark. Besides the ephod he wears a long linen robe and Michal despises him, not for exposing himself, but only for dancing (1Ch 15:27-29).

7. Priests and Levites:

(3) It is needless to collect the evidence of X. The non-Aaronite Levites appear there as ministers of the greatest importance, elaborately set apart, and with their duties and privileges accurately defined (Nu 8, especially). Now, it is submitted that this evidence points in its most natural interpretation to a gradual narrowing of the priestly privileges in Israel through a period of many centuries. It is natural, though by no means necessary, to identify the non-Zadokians of Ezekiel with the non-Aaronites of X. At all events it is argued that in course of time, long after the priesthood had become restricted to Levites only, a considerable proportion of the latter lost their priestly privilege. Ezekiel stood near enough to the change (that he was the actual innovator is improbable) to state the fact of the degradation and its cause. X regarded the distinction as of such long standing that it must be accredited to Moses himself. It is highly probable that evidence of the change is to be found in De 18:6-8, but this will not be pressed here.

8. Dues:

(1) In Covenant Code first-fruits are to be offered in Ex 23:19 and a portion (perhaps a tenth, but not specified as such) of the whole harvest in 22:29. Nothing is said about their disposition. In Deuteronomy, the first-fruits of grain, wine and oil (with fleece) belong to the "priests the Levites" (18:4). And the basket of "fruit" in the beautiful rite of 26:1-11 probably had the same destination. Of the general harvest the tithe is to be dedicated, as explained at length in 14:22-29. The worshipper is to eat it himself, but shall take care to see that the Levite receives a portion. Every third year, however, the tithe is to be spent for the benefit of all who need charity, including the Levite. Note that in either case the Levite receives only a part of the tithe. In X the first-fruits are again assigned to the clergy (but now specifically to the priests--Nu 18:12,13). But it appears that the tithe is to be given wholly to the Levites in Nu 18:21-24. The contradiction with De 14:22-29 is real. That two tithes were to be paid by the worshipper may safely be assumed as impossible, as a tax of one-fifth would have been unendurable. (It may be noted, though, that in later days the very pious took this interpretation-- compare Tobit 1:7--but it is certain that no such ruling ever maintained generally.) An alternative explanation offered is that it could be assumed that the Levite would invite the worshipper to join in a feast on the tithe. Frankly, it is difficult to treat this as quite candid. In Deuteronomy the worshipper is anything rather than a mere guest at another man’s banquet. When the tithe has been brought as money, the worshipper is to spend it on anything that best pleases him, and of the Levite it is said only "thou shalt not forsake him." Moreover, the tithe is to be consumed at the sanctuary and nowhere else (De 14:23; compare Deu 12:11). In Nu 18, however, the tithe becomes the exclusive property of the Levite and it is assigned him as his source of income (verses 25-32) and so exclusively is it his that it in turn is tithed. And, far from being turned into a feast at which the worshipper shares, it need not be consumed at the sanctuary at all but may be eaten in "every place," wherever the Levite and his family may happen to live (verse 31). It would be hard to conceive of two rules more mutually exclusive than the tithe directions in Deuteronomy and Numbers. That the livelihood provided for the Levites in Deuteronomy is pitiful is hardly in point and at all events he received more than did the widow and the orphan. But compare IV.

(2) Firstlings in Covenant Code must be offered on the eighth day (Ex 22:30), but in De 15:19-22 they were preserved, without being worked or shorn, until "year by year" they could be taken up to the sanctuary. (Apparently by 14:23-25 it might be converted into money in case of great distance.) Here the worshipper was to offer it and eat of it (a peace offering). But in Nu 18:15-18 the firstling becomes the personal property of the priest and he receives the flesh of the animal, if it can be sacrificed (i.e. it is his peace offering, not the worshipper’s). There is no question of giving back a portion to the worshipper, again. Note, moreover, that in De 15:21-23, an animal not fit for sacrifice was eaten at home by the worshipper and so did not come in contact with the priest at all; contrast Nu 18:15.

(3) A minor matter is found in the portion of the peace offering that went to the priest. In De 18:3 it is specified as the shoulder, two cheeks and maw. In X (Ex 29:26- 28,etc.) this has become the breast and the right thigh--a considerably more advantageous portion.

(4) In De it is laid down that a Levite has no inheritance among his brethren (Deu 10:9; 12:12; 18:1) and hence, is recommended as an object of charity, like the widow and the orphan. And, like the widow and the orphan, he lives "within thy gates" (Deu 12:12, etc.), i.e. in the same cities as the rest of the Israelites. Now in X the adjurations to charity disappear, because he receives a fixed income (from the tithe), but it is said that this tithe is given the Levites in lieu of an inheritance, "Among the children of Israel they shall have no inheritance" (Nu 18:21-24), In another part of X, however, there is still a different conception--the Levites receive no less than forty- eight cities with ample "suburbs," expressly said to be given them "from the inheritance" of Israel (Nu 35:1-8). So in Le 25:32-34 the houses of the Levites are "their possession among the children of Israel," and the fields "their perpetual possession" and inalienable. Is there any natural explanation of these passages except that they represent increasing efforts to provide properly for the Levites as time went on? That the different rules represent advances within Moses’ own period cannot be taken seriously, especially as on this hypothesis the De laws would have been the latest. See, in addition, III.

9. Miscellaneous:

(1) Covenant Code and De have little mention of coined money and little attempt to define fractions exactly. Contrast the elaborate regulations of, e.g. Le 27. It is not contended that the Israelites could not have had enough culture in Moses’ day to calculate so accurately, but attention must be drawn to the extreme contrast.

(2) In Covenant Code (Ex 23:16) the year begins in the fall, in H (Le 23:5) and X (Ex 12:2; Nu 9:5; 28:16) it begins in the spring.

(3) De 16:3 explains the use of unleavened bread at the Passover as due to the haste with which the Israelites left Egypt (as in Ex 12:39), while Ex 12:15-20 makes this use depend on the positive command of God before the first-born were slain. And note that, in Ex 12:18-20 is a simple repetition of Ex 12:15-17 with a more precise dating added. For this matter of dating compare the rough statements of Covenant Code with the exactness of Le 23.

(4) In Covenant Code marital rights of the master over his maidservants are taken for granted (Ex 21:7-11); in De 15:17 the maidservant has the same privilege of release as the manservant, with the evident assumption that slavery does not confer marital rights on the master. (It is of course gratuitous to assume that two different kinds of maidservants are meant, particularly as in both cases the maidservant is contrasted in general with the manservant in general.) Note, moreover, that in Ex 20:17 "wife" follows "house" in the prohibition against coveting, while in De 5:21 "wife" precedes "house" and a different verb is used. The inference is natural that between Covenant Code and De woman, both as slave and as wife, had risen to a higher position.

(5) In both Covenant Code (Ex 21:6) and De 15:17 life-long slavery is permitted, if the slave desires it, otherwise the slave is free at the end of the sixth year. In H (Le 25:39-43), the slave serves until the Jubilee year and then goes free absolutely.

10. Summary:

Now, it is not claimed that all the discrepancies in the above lists are incapable of reconciliation, although the examples chosen are among those where reconciliation is extremely difficult. The claim is made, however, that all of this evidence is cumulative and that each successive item points more and more forcibly toward a single conclusion--that in the legislation of the Pentateuch, especially when considered in connection with the Prophets and with Samuel-Kings, there have been incorporated laws belonging to very different periods. And, for the most part, a development from the simple to the highly organized can be traced. And this conclusion explains all the facts.

11. Additional Note:

It is to be understood that this passage is not used as presenting a basic argument for the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis. But it is cited as an example of other passages where the text is to be considered. And, also, because the assertion is made that this particular passage is a death-blow to the "critical" hypothesis. Naturally, it is nothing of the sort.

III. The History.

1. Chronicles:

2. Kings, etc.:

Indeed, Kings mentions the Tabernacle only in 1Ki 8:4. Samuel mentions the Tabernacle as such only in 1Sa 2:22. Jud does not mention the Tabernacle at all (Jud 18:31 is the only possibility and the word there is "house"). Now 1Sa 2:22 is not found in the Vatican Septuagint, and the description of the Tabernacle as a tent contradicts 1Sa 1:9; 3:15, where it appears as a temple or house. So it must be dropped as a gloss. Nor will it be denied that 1Ki 8:4 looks suspiciously like a gloss as well, particularly in view of the presence of Levites there, who are practically unmentioned elsewhere in Samuel-Kings. At all events, there are only these two possible mentions of what should have been the center of Israel’s worship in all of Judges-Samuel-Kings. This is not the ordinary argument from silence, it is silent about what should have been the most vital matter of all. Deuteronomy knows nothing of the Tabernacle, and, as has already been shown in II, states as clearly as language only can that in the wilderness the centralization of worship was not observed. The argument from silence alone would be conclusive here, for how could the author of De in his passionate advocacy of the single sanctuary fail to appeal to the single sanctuary already established by God’s decree, if he knew anything about it? But not only is there no such mention in Deuteronomy but a positive exclusion of such a sanctuary in express terms. The case would seem to be complete. The Tabernacle of X and Chronicles is an ideal structure projected back into the past, just as the temple of Ezekiel is an ideal structure projected into the future. And it is needless to appeal to the familiar argument that the Tabernacle of Ex 26 would have been blown to pieces by the first storm. It had no provision for tent poles deeply sunk, which alone could resist the blasts of the desert.

It is impossible in the space of the present article to enter into all the corroborative evidence, but a very few important arguments may be mentioned.

3. The Conquest:

4. Ideas of God:

Simple people think of God quite naturally and reverently as a greater man. So in Ex 24:9-11 we read that Moses and many others met God in the mount, they all saw Him. and ate and drank before Him. A slightly more refined point of view is in Ex 33:11, where Moses (but no one else) sees God face to face, and Nu 12:8, where again he (alone) sees the form of God. But in Ex 33:20 no man, not even Moses, can see God face to face. In De 4:11-15 it is laid down that only darkness was seen- -"ye saw no form." Perhaps Moses was thought of as an exception, but the contradiction of the concept that conceived over seventy Israelites besides Moses to have seen God is complete.

5. Priesthood:

6. Summary:

Reasons of space preclude a further discussion of the other arguments here, such as the linguistic. As a matter of fact, the sections that contain the more developed concepts contain also a different vocabulary. To be repeated, however, is the fact that the argument is cumulative and that a single explanation of the differences is offered in the hypothesis of very varying dates for the various portions. Of course an exact analysis of every verse and a rigorous reconstruction of every source is not claimed to be possible. Many scholars have been carried by their enthusiasm for analysis into making preposterous dissections. But the principal lines of division are sufficiently clear. And it may be hoped the reader will not think that the acceptance of them has been dictated by any motive except that of facing the truth--least of all by any motive of a weakened faith in the power of God or a suspicion of the miraculous.

IV. Reconstruction.

1. Covenant Code:

Israel came into Canaan, after having received through the mediation of Moses a covenant relation with God and (almost certainly) some accompanying legislation. But this legislation seems not to have prescribed the ritual form that the worship of God was to take. In part, old forms were simply continued and in part new forms were gradually developed or appropriated, the emphasis of the Law at that time being on the moral and the ritual being left quite free. In especial, sacrifices were offered wherever Israelites happened to live, doubtless frequently at former Canaanite sanctuaries, now rededicated to Yahweh. The local sanctuary was the center of the life. Men went thither to learn God’s will and to give a religious character to what we should call purely secular transactions (contracts, etc.). Firstlings were offered there on the eighth day, first-fruits at once, every meal of flesh food was given a sacrificial character (peace offering), and, for more solemn purposes, the whole burnt offering was offered. So the local sanctuary corresponded to our "village church"; it was the religious home of the people. Certain of these sanctuaries had an especial dignity, above all Shiloh, where the Ark was. Later, when a united Israel had been realized, David brought the Ark to Jerusalem that the national capital might become the center of the national religious life as well, and Solomon enshrined the Ark in the Temple. So to Jerusalem there resorted naturally the best of Israel’s religious leaders, and there the worship of God would be found in its purest form, normally speaking.

2. Deuteronomy:

As time went on, the progress of culture and the freer contact with other nations had bad effects as well as good. New and degrading religious practices flowed into the country and they revived old but equally degrading religious practices that had survived from the Canaanites. The priesthood at Jerusalem did not escape a taint, but the place where such rites gained the readiest foothold was of course the obscure local sanctuaries. Not the best-minded king or the most zealous prophet, could watch all the services at them all, and attempts at purging them of idolatry or idolatrous rites (Elijah, Jehu, etc.) could not effect permanent improvement. And it could not have been very long after David’s own day that the idea must have begun to grow that complete prohibition of country sacrifices and the rigid centralization of everything at Jerusalem was the only measure possible. This would soon become a fixed conviction of the better class of the Jerusalem priesthood and in a few generations would be a tradition. Detailed precepts to carry this tradition into effect arose necessarily and in turn became a tradition and in course of time were regarded as Moses’ work and committed to writing. In this way the legislation of De took form and at the time of its discovery under Josiah there is not the slightest occasion to attribute fraud to anyone engaged in the transaction. The document agreed fairly well with what was the tradition of Jerusalem, and no one at that day could distinguish between a writing a century old or even less and a writing of Moses own time. The country priests and the mass of the people were not consulted as to enforcing it, and they would not have known if they had been consulted. On any reading of the history, the reforms proceeded from a very small group, and any general "tradition of the Jews" was nonexistent.

3. Later:

(1) The reforms added to theoretical tradition the additional influence of practical experience and the idea of course dominated the minds of the more earnest among the exiles. Ezekiel, in particular, realized that only at a single sanctuary could the worship of God be kept pure--the single sanctuary was God’s will. And Ezekiel’s influence was immense. Now it is to be noted that at the return only those came back who had a real enthusiasm for Jerusalem, as Babylonia was, materially speaking, a far more attractive place than the Palestine of that day. That the single sanctuary could have been questioned by any of these Jews or that they could have conceived of Moses as instituting anything of less dignity is impossible.

(2) Other reforms also had been at work. Even in De the more primitive note of joyousness was maintained in the sacrifices. But joyousness in simple life is often dissipation in cultured life and the peace offering could be made a debauch (Isa 22:12-14; Pr 7:14). A sense of personal guilt had become far better developed and the incongruity of penitential worship with a festal meal was recognized. A very slight change was made: the portion was to be eaten by the priest instead of the worshipper--and the sin and trespass offerings emerged. The abuses were cut away by this one stroke and the peace offering proper retired into the background. And sacrifices were made the proper center of the official worship. In accord with the growing culture, proportions of gifts, dates of feasts, etc., were specified more and more exactly, the worship was surrounded with a more impressive ritual, and, in particular, the officiating priests substituted vestments suited to the better taste of the time for the old loin-cloth. Traces are left in the Old Testament of difficulties regarding the rights of the various classes of priests to minister but the matter was settled eventually in a manner that satisfied all. Priests formerly guilty of idolatry and their descendants were admitted to share in the worship and the priestly revenues, but the actual offering of sacrifice was restricted to those who had been faithful. The proper support of the clergy so formed required, in accordance with their dignity, more elaborate provisions than had been needed in the simpler times of old, but was accomplished in a manner again entirely satisfactory. The religion of no other nation could have survived the Babylonian exile intact. But Israel returned, with the elements formerly necessary but now outgrown changed into a form adapted to the new task the nation had before it--the preparation of itself and the world for the advent of Christ.

4. Evaluation:

This growth toward the higher, involving as it did the meeting of all kinds of obstacles, the solving of all kinds of problems, the learning when to abandon elements that had been transcended, is unique in the history of religions. And the explanation of its uniqueness can be found only in the guidance of God. And in the history as reconstructed God is seen truly as the Father, who trained His children little by little, giving them only what they were able to receive but bringing them surely to Himself. And in the documents that contain the precepts for each stage of progress God’s hand can be seen no less clearly. To be sure, in the secular science of history (as in physics or astronomy) His revelation was expressed in forms that His people could understand. This alteration--and this alteration only--in our view of what is covered by Biblical inspiration is the sacrifice demanded by the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis.


This is overwhelming and reference must be made to the separate articles. The standard analysis is that of The Oxford Hexateuch (1900), more briefly in The Composition of the Hexateuch by Carpenter and Harford (Battersby) (1902). Marx, Die Bucher Moses und Josua (1907), is the best brief introduction. Gunkel’s Genesis (1910) in the Nowack series, his more popular Die Urgeschichte und die Patriarchen (1911), and his "Die israelitische Literatur" in Die Kultur der Gegenwart, I, 7 (1906), should on no account be neglected. The best treatment of the inspiration question from the standpoint of pure dogmatics is F. J. Hall’s Authority: Ecclesiastical and Biblical (1908).

In the above discussion it has been assumed that our text of the Old Testament is at least relatively trustworthy. The reader interested in what can be done by textual reconstruction will find the opposite poles represented in the works of Wiener and of Cheyne.

Burton Scott Easton

(EDITORIAL NOTE.--The promoters of the Encyclopedia are not to be understood as endorsing all the views set forth in Dr. Easton’s article (see Criticism of the Bible). It was thought right, however, that, in such a work of reference, there should be given a full and adequate presentation of so popular a theory.)