Friday, September 24, 2010

Fundamental Fridays--What does Literary Analysis Prove?

In the early 1900's. a twelve volume work on theology titled The Fundamentals was published. This massive work, in my most humble of opinions, is just as relevant today if not more so with the ever increasing attacks on the faith of Christians--and that's just from folks inside the church. I wanted to publish some excerpts from this work that I think will be greatly encouraging to you.

But even on the assumption of the practical inerrancy of the Massoretic text the arguments against the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch drawn from the literary analysis are seen to be the result of misdirected scholarship, and to be utterly fallacious. The long lists of words adduced as characteristic of the writers to whom the various parts of the Pentateuch are assigned are readily seen to be occasioned by the different objects aimed at in the portions from which the lists are made.

Here, however, it is necessary to add that besides the E and J documents the critics suppose that Deuteronomy, which they designate "D", is an independent literary production written in the time of Josiah. Furthermore, the critics pretend to have discovered by their analysis another document which they Call the Priestly Code and designate as "P". This provides the groundwork of most of the narrative, and comprises the entire ceremonial portion of the law. This document, which, according to these critics did not come into existence till the time of Ezekiel, largely consists of special instructions to priests telling them how they were to perform the sacrifices and public ceremonials, and how they were to determine the character of contagious diseases and unsanitary conditions. Such instructions are necessarily made up largely of technical language such as is found in the libraries of lawyers and physicians, and it is easy enough to select from such literature a long list of words which are not to be found in contemporary literature dealing with the ordinary affairs of life and aiming directly at elevating the tone of morality and stimulating devotion to higher spiritual ends. Furthermore, an exhaustive examination (made by Chancellor Lias) of the entire list of words found in this P document attributed to the time of Ezekiel shows absolutely no indication of their belonging to an age later than that of Moses.

The absurdity of the claims of the higher critics to having established the existence of different documents in the Pentateuch by a literary analysis has been shown by a variety of examples. The late Professor C. M. Mead, the most influential of the American revisers of the translation of the Old Testament, in order to exhibit the fallacy of their procedure, took the Book of Romans and arbitrarily divided it into three parts, according as the words "Christ Jesus," "Jesus," or "God" were used; and then by analysis showed that the lists of peculiar words characteristic of these three passages were even more remarkable than those drawn up by the destructive critics of the Pentateuch from the three leading fragments into which they had divided it. The argument from literary analysis after the methods of these critics would prove the composite character of the Epistle to the Romans as fully as that of the critics would prove the composite character of the Pentateuch. A distinguished scholar, Dr. Hayman, formerly head-master of Rugby, by a similar analysis demonstrated the composite character of Robert Burns' little poem addressed to a mouse, half of which is in the purest English and the other half in the broadest Scotch dialect. By the same process it would be easy to prove three Macaulays and three Miltons by selecting lists of words from the documents prepared by them when holding high political offices and from their various prose and poetical writings.The Fundamentals: A Testimony to the Truth.

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