« הקודםהמשך »
ORIGIN OF THE NATION TO THE TIME OF CHRIST :
DEDUCED FROM THE WRITINGS OF MOSES, AND
OTHER INSPIRED AUTHORS ;
AND ILLUSTRATED BY COPIOUS REFERENCES TO THE ANCIENT RECORDS,
TRADITIONS, AND MYTHOLOGY OF THE HEATHEN WORLD.
BY GEORGE SMITH, F. S. A., LRKU
MEMBER OF THE ROYAL ASIATIO SOCIETY OF GREAT BRITAIN AND IRELAND,
a learned layman"
The second part of the "Sacred Annals,” which is now presented to the public, comprises the History and Religion of the Hebrew People, from the Origin of the Nation to the Time of Christ. In the preparation of this portion of the work, the Author has steadily kept in view the purpose which he announced in the Preface to the preceding volume; namely, to "present a complete view of the history and religion" of this nation in a decidedly religious manner. In the prosecution of this attempt he has encountered great, and, in some respects, unexpected, difficulty. To arrange and condense into a limited compass the civil and religious history of a great people during seventeen cen. turies, would, under any circumstances, be a work sufficiently onerous; but this has been greatly increased by numerous collateral subjects, of the most embarrassing character, with which the history of the Jews is involved. The most important questions in theology, the most recondite inquiries in ancient history, the most perplexing cases of Biblical criticism, the most difficult problems in early geography,—all obtruded themselves upon the attention of the writer; and required to be investigated, adjusted, reconciled, and wrought up into a homogeneous narrative. Beyond all the embarrassments from these sources, has been that occasioned by the irreligious and unscriptural tendency of the productions of certain authors, whose great talents, extensive learning, and high character, have invested their opinions with some degree of authority, and might have served the cause of truth, instead of imperiling its best interests.
The Author has, however, devoted his best energies to the work; and, although impeded by many other engagements, has spared neither expense nor labor to present to the reader, in a combined form, an ample epitome of Jewish history, and a complete exhibition of Hebrew religion, intended in all its parts to illustrate the great purpose of God in the redemption of man.
In the commencement of the Epistle to the Hebrews we are taught, that “God, who at sundry times and in divers manners
spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son.” We, therefore, who enjoy the benefit of this full revelation of Divine love and mercy through Christ Jesus, are furnished with "a light that shineth” into the dark places of preceding dispensations; and are thus enabled to invest our views of past generations with the spirit of evangelical godliness.
This having been the object of the Author, it is almost superfluous to say, that he has taken the Holy Scripture as his guide. It has been his constant aim to admit, maintain, and illustrate the truth of the sacred oracles. While he has carefully sought out other sources of information, and diligently consulted every available authority, he has, in respect of these, endeavored to avoid equally a servile submission to human judgment, and a captious rejection of the legitimate influence of intellect and learning.
The serious discouragements under which the Author has labored, have been, in some measure, counteracted by the favor with which the first volume has been received : and by the earnest manner in which many individuals, whose judgment is entitled to respect, have requested him to complete his scheme. From the United States, also, where the "Patriarchal Age" has been republished and favorably noticed, the Author has had communications urging him to prosecute his purpose to completion.
With respect to the plan of this volume, one remark only is necessary. When entering upon the work, it was perceived that, unless some means were adopted to guard against it, the numerous and necessary critical disquisitions arising out of the subject, would prevent the possibility of maintaining anything like unity in the narrative. To meet this difficulty, it was decided to transmute a large portion of this digressive matter into Notes at the end of each chapter.*
The concluding volume of the series, for which considerable preparation has already been made, will, it is hoped, be completed at no distant period. It is intended to embrace the History and Religion of the Gentile Nations, from the Death of Isaac to the Christian Era. Trevu, CAMBORNE,
September 15th, 1849. [In the American edition these valuable “Notes” are inserted in the Appendix, so as Dot to break the continuity of the narrative.-Am, Editor.]