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compared with those which have succeeded them, partial and imperfect
, designedly so; and it casts no imputation upon the wisdom or goodness of their Divine Author that they were so. It is from failing to recognise this, that the types have been made in many hands to teach all the mysteries of the Christian faith ; and the prophecies have been found so full and explicit, as almost to render the gospels superfluous. A just idea of the relation of the two economies will save us from all temptation to allegorise, to multiply our assumption of double senses to a needless and unprofitable extent, or to employ any of that variety of means and applications which have been adopted to bring out meanings from the text which evidently are not there, to the neglect too often of the meaning no less important and far more obvious in its bearing upon Christian truth which really is there. From these and the like errors on the part of interpreters, it has happened many a time that the arguments drawn from the former dispensation to the present, even where there is abundant room for them to be strongly built, and on independent foundations, are vitiated by a needless and unworthy petitio principii.
The little treatise which has suggested this train of remark is not a Theology of the Old Testament, but simply Prolegomena, in which the writer's views are given as to the outline of such a work, and the principles upon which it should be conducted. It is written with not a little ability; but some of the sentiments which it betrays cannot be regarded as unexceptionable, at least by American theologians. Oehler is a strenuous defender of the supernatural character of the Old Testament, and of its intimate connection with the New. And from occasional glimpses of his sentiments, we are led to infer that upon many important theological questions he would be found to be right. But the development theory which he has adopted, and seems disposed to carry out in the most rigid manner, has vitiated his views of inspiration, and leads him not unfrequently to an undue depreciation of the Old Testament. Nevertheless, we shall be pleased to see his promised work, whenever it appears ; for whatever its deficiencies or its errors, we hardly think that it can fail to prove a valuable contribution to a much neglected branch of theological literature.
He divides Old Testament theology into three portions, as found respectively in the books of Moses, in the writings of the prophets, including both the prophecies properly so called, and the theocratic history, and in the writings of the sacred poets. The system of religion, as revealed through Moses, lies at the foundation, and includes within itself both the patriarchal and the ante-patriarchal revelations. These being presented in Genesis, under the aspect of a preparation for, or an introduction to, the covenant of God with Israel, belong properly to the Mosaic system itself, as a constituent of its religious faith, as the account which it gives of its own origin.
This Mosaic system was further enlarged, on the one hand, by the providential leadings of God in the history of his people, and by the inspired communications of the prophets. This falls under the second division. Then the third shows how it was again enlarged on the other hand, by the struggles and questionings which it occasioned in the minds and hearts of holy men, as they strove to fulfil its tasks, to master its principles, and to solve its problems. What he says under this head looks very much as though he meant to deny any other influence of the Spirit of God in this part of Scripture than that exerted in the sanctification of the writers. The lyric poetry of the Psalms is the domain of religious feeling, striving to reconcile existing contrarieties between the idea and the outward manifestation, not by pointing to a future realization, which is the method of the prophets, but by seeking a realization in their own experience, and by faith already appropriating the blessings of a salvation yet to be achieved. The didactic poetry of other books is the domain of reflection. In Proverbs, the enigmas and contradictions of the present state are almost lost from sight, in the contemplation of the divine order which has been established and now exists in the world. And the realization of the divine purpose, by an active conformity to the will of God, is presented as at once the duty and the wisdom of man. In the book of Job, these enigmas have forced themselves upon the soul with all their formidable difficulties, and in the struggle after their solution which ensues, anxious questionings are awakened as to the truth of the Old Testament idea of God, or the reality of his providential government. The book, though not without some presentiments of a higher solution, takes refuge at last in the mysteries of the divine wisdom, and then falls back again into the view of the matter from which it had set out as confirmed by the events at their close. In Ecclesiastes there has been the same struggle, and it has been fought through ; but the result is not the solution, but despair of it. The highest wisdom is placed in resignation; man is to use the things of this vain world as he best can, committing all to the sovereign pleasure of a sovereign God. A conviction is thus reached of the insufficiency of the Old Testament stand-point, and a negative preparation is thus furnished for the clearer revelations of the New, the positive preparation being given in the writings of the prophets.
In conclusion, we only add, for the information of such of our readers as may feel an interest in the subject, a few words respecting the better class of German works in this depart
ment. We pass by all those in silence, which are vitiated by rationalistic sentiments, or even worse.
The Lectures on the Theology of the Old Testament, by Steudel (1840), and those by Hävernick (1848), both of them posthumous publications, stand on believing and evangelical ground, although allowance must be made in both cases for peculiarities of individual views. The essays by Hengstenberg on the theology of the books of Moses, in his Authentie des Pentateuchs, and on the theology of the Psalms, at the close of his Commentary, are among the most valuable contributions to these portions of the general subject.
Art. V.—The Prophet Obadiah, Expounded by Charles Paul
Caspari. Leipzig, 1842, pp. 145. The name of Caspari, at present licentiate and Lector of Theology in the University of Christiania, has been more than once mentioned, and his labours referred to in our pages, but we are desirous of introducing him more fully to the acquaintance of our readers. The treatise, whose title we have placed at the head of this article, is not the most recent of his publications ; in fact, it is one of the earliest, but it is the one which best answers our purpose, being at once brief and complete in itself. Though Obadiah is the shortest book in the old Testament, it yet presents questions enough in the way of criticism and exposition to furnish a fair field for the abilities of him that undertakes to solve them; while it cannot fail to bring out as clearly as a book of larger compass, the method which he pursues, and the system which he adopts. The volume before us was announced as the first of a series of commentaries on the prophets, to be prepared by himself, in concert with his fellowstudent and intimate friend, Delitzsch, whose exposition of Habakkuk appeared the next year. But as we know of no commentary since from the pen of Caspari, and as that most recently issued by Delitzsch is not upon one of the prophets, and as meanwhile they have both left Leipsic, Caspari to go to Christiania, and Delitzsch to become Professor of Theology in the University of Rostock, it is probable that their original project may have been abandoned, at least for a time.*
Another series of publications, which they commenced to issue together, appeared under the name of Biblico-theological, and Apologetico-critical Studies." The first of these
” Since the above was written, Caspari has issued a Commentary on Micah, noticed our last number (p. 273.)
was the “ Biblico-prophetical Theology” of Delitzsch, containing an account of Christian Crusius and his labours in that field, together with a discussion of the principles advanced in the recent works of Hofmann and Baumgarten. The second contained Contributions to the Introduction to Isaiah by Caspari, in which he examines various questions relating to the first six chapters of that prophecy, as preliminary to the commentary which he is preparing. He has published, besides, another treatise of kindred character on the Syro-Ephraimitic War, under Jotham and Ahaz, and an Arabic Grammar, de signed for students of the language, who want something less copious than the grammars of De Sacy and Ewald, yet not so meagre as the generality of the manuals previously in use.
Of Obadiah, as of some others of the minor prophets, nothing is recorded but the name, and that only in the title to his prophecy. The traditionary notices which variously identify him with the governor of Ahab's house (1 Kings xviii. 3); with the captain of fifty spared by Elijah (2 Kings i. 13); or with the husband of the woman mentioned (2 Kings iv. 1); or which declare him to have been a proselyte from Edom, are entirely unreliable, and owe their origin to an endeavour to elicit by conjectural combination a knowledge of the prophet, which authentic accounts do not furnish. The very period in which he lived is matter of dispute. As might have been anticipated, this furnished a fine opportunity for German criticism to display itself, which is never more confident in its conclusions than when it has least evidence on which to base them. Unfortunately, however, its varying results are calculated to inspire any thing but confidence in lookers on. Obadiah has been pronounced with equal positiveness to be the very earliest and the very latest of the prophets whose writings form part of the canon, while almost every assignable intermediate position has been allotted to hiin by one or other of those who have undertaken to speak oracularly upon the subject. Caspari has been content to take the less ambitious, but not less safe method of acquiescing in a date already fur nished, rather than inventing a new one. The only external evidence which bears upon the point is the position which this prophecy occupies in the collection of the minor prophets
, according to which Obadiah succeeds Amos, and precedes Jonah and Micah. The correctness of this our author strenuously defends; and if he has not rigidly proved it, he has cer. tainly shown that no sufficient reason exists in the present case for departing from it. It is on all hands admitted, as is indeed evident on a bare inspection, that in the arrangement of the minor prophets some respect was had, at least in the general, to the chronological order. The only question that can
possibly arise is whether this was carried out strictly in detail. Those of the earliest period come first; those shortly before the exile, next; those succeeding the exile, last. All of them that have their dates indicated in the title appear in their proper order. The analogy of the arrangement of the greater prophets, and the former prophets of the Hebrew canon, also favours the conclusion that the succession is a chronological one. So does the traditional testimony preserved by Jerome.* And as for the internal proofs which have been alleged as at variance with it, Caspari maintains (and this is also the view taken of the same subject by Hengstenberg, Hävernick, and other eminent scholars) that in no case is there a necessity of supposing the chronological order to have been departed from; that the presumption in favour of its having been adhered to throughout is heightened by the impossibility of assigning any reasons of a tropical kind, which could have led to its abandonment in the cases adduced ; and that the assumption of the collector himself being in error, and especially of our competency to correct it if he were, is wholly inadmissible.
Among the internal grounds relied upon for the determination of the period to which Obadiah is to be assigned, the first concerns the relation which this prophecy bears to a parallel one in Jeremiah, chap. xlix. The coincidence in thought and even language (compare Obad. verses 1-4, with Jer. xlix. 14–16; Obad. verses 5, 6, with Jer. xlix. 9, 10; Obad. verse 8, with Jer. xlix. 7), is too great to have been a casual resemblance in the utterance of thoughts, independently conceived by different minds.
There are in this, as in all similar cases of Scripture criticism, but three supposable ways of accounting for the fact; and here, as in every other instance, all three have had their advocates. Either Jeremiah borrowed from Obadiah, or Obadiah from Jeremiah, or both alike from some preceding prophet. It would no doubt be thought by most persons out of Germany, that the settlement of such a question as this in the absence of all external proof, even though the passage disputed were far longer than it is, must be involved in great difficulty and uncertainty. Our brethren across the waters, however, have great skill in such matters. If two writers have a single sentence, or even part of a sentence in common, we have scarcely seen the German commentator who would not undertake to say with positiveness with which of them it was original, or whether it was so with either. The art has been practised so long and so generally, that it has come to be reduced to absolute rule. It seems to pass as an unquestioned
." In quibus (prophetarum Scriptis) tempus non profertur in titulo, sub illis eos regibus prophetasse, sub quibus et hi, qui ante eos habent titulos, prophetârunt.” Prol. in Xll. Prophet. Min.