« AnkstesnisTęsti »
rative and authentic profane history, and they were found to be in most remarkable accord. The instances of disagreement' turned out to be the exact contrary. The main basis of their reasonings was struck from under the feet of the mythical interpreters, and their whole system collapsed, or at least ceased to be formidable. The old literal historical interpretation always upheld by the Christian Church was re-established, and is now almost unquestioned."
CANON TRISTRAM'S PAPER AT THE CHURCH CONGRESS.
HISTORICAL AND CHRONOLOGICAL.
In reply to the question "What are the Definite Results of Recent Assyrian and other Discoveries on the Interpretation of Scripture?" Canon Tristram considered them to be fourfold. 1. Ethnographical. 2. Historical. 3. Chronological. 4. Geographical or Topographical-in plain words, relating to race, history, time, and place. He said he left the question of race in the hands of Professor Rawlinson, but with regard to the other three points never until now, and quite recently, had such a mass of material existed to aid us in tracing the history of primitive man-materials which could be considered as at all contemporary with our sacred writings-but we can now go back even to the epoch before the call of Abraham, and find an ancient literature, amplifying, exaggerating, interpolating, but never absolutely contradicting the terse narrative of Genesis. A long series of records, now accessible to everybody,* bring before us a complete history of the times from the Creation to the Story of the Flood, and the history of Izdubar, or Nimrod. The Canon attached the probable date of 2000 B.c. to these records, and if written then, there were traditions also still older than the writings.
"We have," he continued, 66 on these clay tablets an account of Chaos, from which are generated monsters or demons, heaven, earth, and sea. We hear of the fall of
*"Records of the Past," published by the Society of Biblical Archæology. Bagster and Sons, Paternoster Row. Each volume 3s. 6d.
a celestial being, who appears to correspond to Satan. There is war in heaven,* the powers of evil were conquered, the gods created the Universe in the same succession as in the Mosaic narrative, at each step pronouncing it 'good,' and their work culminates in the Creation of man. And here, 'the God' (our God) is spoken of, while elsewhere the Baby. lonian mythology is introduced, as though the archaic simplicity of primæval truth had been retained in this tablet alone, which was too sacred to be tampered with, even by the priesthood. Man is made upright, and endued with the faculty of speech. A long address is delivered by the Deity to man, impressing on him his duties; and to the woman her duties to her husband, and the pair are to be the companions of the gods.
"In another Tablet we have the creation of dry land; in the fifth we have the creation of the heavenly bodies with much detail, the moon being created before the sun. They are to be for signs, for seasons, for days, and for years. But further, it declares the Sabbath to have been ordained at the Creation. On the seventh day He appointed a holy day, and to cease from all business He commanded.' Yet, as Mr. Fox Talbot remarks, 'The account falls short of the majesty of the Hebrew Genesis, for it implies that the heavenly movements might possibly go wrong, and therefore the dwellings of the gods Hea and Bel are placed in the planets.' Amid the controversies on the origin and meaning of the Sabbath, we now know that it was no Mosaic invention, no exclusively Semitic observance, not even an ordinance delivered to Abraham to separate his family from surrounding idolatry, but a primæval tradition, recognised, be it noted, by the Hamite contemporaries of Nimrod, as instituted from the Creation. We have thus another definite result; for evidence is afforded that the Sabbath was recognised as a Divine institution before the separation of the Hamite and Semitic families of man, and that the obligation of its observance was acknowledged by both families.
"Four rivers are spoken of as surrounding Gan-dann-i.e., Gan-Eden, the Garden of Eden, two of them the Tigris and Euphrates. Among the names of the Antediluvians occur Cain,
* See p. 92, also p. 54, "The Voices of God in this Century."
Enoch, Cainan, Lamech, Tubal-Cain, or Bil-kan, the god of fire and melter of metals. The ten generations of Genesis are reprcsented by ten successive kings. The translation of Enoch is placed after the Flood, and transferred to Noah. Twenty-three points in the narrative of Genesis are given in the tablets, with some few discrepancies, enough to show that neither narrative was copied directly from the other. We have the account of the building of the Tower of Babel, its interruption by Divine interposition for man's sin. God destroyed in the night what men built in the day. He scattered them also, and made strange their speech, and Babylon was abandoned.' There is not an incident touched on from primæval chaos to the call of Abraham which is not illustrated and confirmed by the utterances of a language which speaks again after a silence of 4,000 years, though we have only just begun to gather a few fragments from its storehouses. The ingenuity of a destructive criticism can avail nothing against this. The solvent of unbelief cannot dissolve the sculptured stones and burnt tablets of Chaldea, and if there be a corroborated and illustrated history in the world we have it here.
"The Assyrian records prove to us that the pre-Abrahamic history was not a vision, revealing to Moses facts of which he was heretofore ignorant, but a simple monotheistic relation of a continuous story of the Earth and of Man's origin, which in a corrupted form had actually at that time long existed in writing. Again, these are not Semitic traditions. They did not belong to the family of Abraham exclusively, but are shown to be in their oldest hitherto discovered form Accadian-i.e., Cushite, or Hamite-a further evidence that the primeval knowledge was not limited to the Semitic progenitors of Israel.
"Abraham must have brought the basis of the early history of Genesis from that cradle of literature-Ur of the Chaldees, the City of Arioch. And I take it that the reasonable view of inspiration is not that God dictated each word to Moses, but that the writer was supernaturally guided to indite that alone which was historic truth. For the variations between the accounts show that though they may be derived from a common origin, they are certainly not derived the one from the other. What then
was the common origin of the Hamite or Accadian cylinders, and of the Mosaic history? There surely can be none later than the accounts imparted by the common father of Shem, Ham, and Japhet, before the Dispersion of mankind. These accounts may have been oral, they may even have been written, for the perfection to which the art of inscribing had arrived so soon after Nimrod may well lead us to believe that it was an art transmitted from across the waters of the Deluge.
"And now are the great events alike recorded in both histories to be accepted as historical facts, or are we, at the bidding of those who would reject all, because of the marvellous element interwoven, to believe that the compilers intended, by the early story of mankind, to give us figurative and elaborate descriptions of natural phenomena ? We reply in the pungent words of G. Smith, If this were true, the myth would have taken to create it a genius almost as great as that of the philosophers who explained it." "
We have only space left to condense a few of Canon Tristram's remarks on the Chronology of the Bible, in which he seems to admit difficulties which we do not ourselves see, though he says, "from Nimrod (or Izdubar) downwards, the chronology now stands scarcely disputed. Archbishop Usher and the modern Assyrian scholars agree in placing him about B.C. 2250.* The difficulty is in the antecedent period from the Flood to his date, for which the received chronology allows only a century. But we can scarcely conceive so vast a multiplication of mankind in the space of three generations, as is evidenced by the history and works of Nimrod, even if we compress the whole into the valleys of the Euphrates and the Tigris. The Elamite conquest of Chaldea (Gen. xiv.) is frequently alluded to in the tablets, and scholars agree in placing that about B.c. 2400, 150 or 200 years before Nimrod. And before it we have the tradition of 36 successive kings from the Flood. If accepted at all, we may fairly allow 1,000 years for this succession, which would place the
* In our Bible the date against Nimrod is 2,218, leaving 130 years. The date in our Bible is B.C. 1918.
Flood about B.C. 3500 chronology."
Thus far Canon we are all so much i
As earlier than the popular
hose travels and researches
WHY ALLOW THE 1,000 YEARS?
If, however, the aforesaid 1,000 years be interpolated, we feel bound to inquire, What becomes of the distinct continuation of the Patriarchal lives after the Flood? which we ascertain as before from the age of the father at the son's birth, as far as JACOB and that of his first three sons, of whom the second was LEVI, born 599 after the Flood, in whose line comes MOSES, with KOHATH and AMRAM between.
Kohath arrived in Egypt, with his grandfather JACOB (Gen. xlvi. 11), 642 years after the Flood, or 1706 B.c. Jacob's age was then 130, and he dwelt in Egypt 17 years, and died there B.C. 1689. As the length of LEVI's life is 137 years, he does not die till 736 years after the Flood, or 1612 B.C., and he has a daughter JOCHEBED, young enough to be married to her nephew AMRAM in the days of the bitter bondage, which did not occur till after the death of Joseph, B.C. 1635, and “that of all his generation."
The EXODUS takes place in 1491 B.C., and the bondage had then certainly endured 80 years, as we learn by the exposure of the beautiful child MOSES 777 years after the Flood and 157 B.C. This was 64 years only after the death of Joseph, during which space the CHILDREN of ISRAEL had multiplied so greatly that "the land was filled with them." They crowded out the Egyptians. Hence the "bondage," and still "the more they were afflicted the more they grew."
The nation had probably a space of more than a hundred suffering years; from which suffering, MOSES was sheltered by the training of the Court and the desert. He had in AARON a brother somewhat older than himself, and in Miriam a sister, older still. The power given us in the Bible of tracing the definite succession of these lives is surely afforded for a special purpose; and when that is fulfilled it ends.