صور الصفحة
PDF
النشر الإلكتروني

pressive imagery portrays the growing deterioration and final impotence of the one, and the ultimate triumph of the other.

It is sometimes objected that this view of the Book of Daniel not only destroys its religious value, but makes it into a forgery: the Book, it has been said, is either Divine or an imposture; if the writer be not Daniel himself, describing events which actually occurred, he must be an impostor, manufacturing falsehoods deliberately in the name of God. In estimating this argument it is necessary in the first place to consider carefully whether the dilemma suggested is a real one. There are circumstances under which no doubt this would be the case: the dilemma would, for instance, be a real one, if we were assured that the object for which the Book was written was to prove the reality of the supernatural by an appeal to miracles, or fulfilled predictions; a writer who alleged unreal miracles or predictions, for such a purpose, would unquestionably be guilty of gross and unpardonable imposture. The assumption, however, that this was the purpose for which the Book of Daniel was written is a gratuitous one: there is nothing in the Book either stating or suggesting it; and if the Book was written for another purpose, this may have been one for which the use of imaginative narratives would be perfectly innocent and harmless : all depends upon the motive actuating the writer, and the purpose with which he wrote. According to critics, the purpose for which the Book of Daniel was written was the consolation and encouragement of the afflicted Jews in the time of Antiochus Epiphanes. For this purpose imaginative narratives might be employed with perfect propriety, and without the smallest intention to deceive. Fiction, even fiction without any foundation of fact whatever, has played an important part in the education of humanity; and religious fiction, written with a didactic purpose, has in both ancient and modern times, been valued by teachers as a powerful instrument of edification, and has won a remarkable amount of popular appreciation. The Old Testament abounds with instances in which poetry and oratory have been employed by the Spirit of God for the purpose of giving expression to moral and religious truth, and

:

[ocr errors]

of stirring the moral and religious emotions of those who either listened in the first instance to the words of the poet or the prophet, or who have since read them; and if the imagination be a faculty granted by God to man, and capable of being employed in instruction and edification, there is no intelligible reason why, where no fact conditioning a theological verity is concerned, it may not have been made subservient to religious ends. The idea that the Bible can contain nothing but matterof-fact descriptions of actual occurrences is supported by nothing said in the Bible itself, and is in reality a survival of an extreme Puritanical conception of its contents. The opening words of the Epistle to the Hebrews authorize us to expect diversity in the literary forms in which 'God spake unto the fathers' in the Old Testament? The Jews are moreover a nation highly gifted with powers of imagination: many passages of the prophets owe the magic of their charm to a chastened use of the imagination; and in post-Biblical times, imaginative narratives, or anecdotes, with a didactic purpose (“haggādāhs,' or 'midrāshīm')?, have formed a large and important part of their religious literature. There is thus the less reason, especially when examples of this kind of literature appear among the earliest of the non-canonical books (for instance, in Tobit and Judith), that it should be unrepresented in the Old Testament.

But it may be said, 'If we have no assurance that God really helped and delivered His servants in the manner described in the Book, what value could the narratives have had for the encouragement and consolation of the Jews persecuted by Antiochus? To encourage them by the narrative of deliver

1 mol vuepws kal molut potws. Cf. the writer's Sermons on the 0.7., p. 143 ff., esp. p. 155 f. Jonah is another book of the same character.

2 I.e. edifying religious narratives, longer or shorter as the case might be, and sometimes developed out of a text, or even a word, of Scripture, sometimes constructed independently. See further, on these two terms, the author's Literature of the Old Testament, p. 497 (ed. 6 or 7, pp. 484, 487, 529). The term 'midrash' occurs twice in the 0. T., of two of the sources used by the Chronicler, 2 Ch. xiii. 22, xxiv. 27 [A. V. story]; and many of the narratives peculiar to the Chronicles have a 'midrashic' character.

very ancient

ances which never happened is nothing but cruel mockery.' The answer to this objection lies in the distinction which must be drawn between a truth or doctrine in itself, and the form,where there are independent reasons for supposing this to be figurative,-in which the truth or doctrine is presented. This distinction is so aptly explained by the Rev. C. J. Ball, in his Introduction to the ‘Song of the Three Children' in the Speaker's Commentary on the Apocrypha (ii. 307), that the passage is worth transcribing in full :

‘The above passages [quotations from the Talmud, including a reference to the story of Abraham's deliverance from the fire, mentioned below, p. 35] not only illustrate the tendency to put appropriate thanksgivings into the mouth of the Three Martyrs, which we find exemplified at length in our Apocryphon: they also shew that the conception of a deliverance from a fiery furnace was traditional among the Jews, in all probability from

nes. And we have to bear in mind a fact familiar enough to students of the Talmudic and Midrashic literature, though apparently unknown to many expositors of Scripture, whose minds conspicuously lack that orientation which is an indispensable preliminary to a right understanding of the treasures of Eastern thought; I mean the inveterate tendency of Jewish teachers to convey their doctrine not in the form of abstract discourse, but in a mode appealing directly to the imagination, and seeking to arouse the interest and sympathy of the man rather than of the philosopher. The Rabbi embodies his lesson in a story, whether parable, or allegory, or seeming historical narrative; and the last thing he or his disciples would think of is to ask whether the selected persons, events, and circumstances which so vividly suggest the doctrine are in themselves real or fictitious. The doctrine is everything ; the mode of presentation has no independent value. To make the story the first consideration, and the doctrine it was intended to convey an after-thought, as we, with our dry Western literalness, are predisposed to do, is to reverse the Jewish order of thinking, and to do unconscious injustice to the authors of many edifying narratives of antiquity.'

The Book of Daniel, like the Book of Jonah, is in its narrative parts (chs. i.-vi.) a vivid presentation of real and important religious truths, even though the events described in it did not in all cases occur in actual fact as the narrative recounts.

Mutatis mutandis, the dream in ch. ii., and the visions in chs. vii.--xii. are to be explained upon the same principles. They are (for the most part) indirect, and to our minds artificial, modes of presenting the truth that the movements of history are in God's hands, and are determined by Him beforehand. At the same time, in what relates to the close of the persecution, and the period of happiness which they represent as then beginning, they contain, as has been already remarked, genuine predictions, and genuine delineations of the future kingdom of God, quite in the manner of the older prophets (comp. also the notes on ix. 24, p. 136 f.).

The following are the earliest extant references, or allusions, to the Book of Daniel. (1) The prophecy vii. 7 end, 8 seems to be alluded to in the so-called 'Sibylline Oracles' (p. lxxxiii), iii. 397—400 (c. 140 B.C.): see p. 98. (2) In i Macc. i. 54 (cf. vi. 7)-written, probably, during the early decades of the first cent. B.c.1—the heathen altar erected by Antiochus on the altar of burnt-offering is called an 'abomination of desolation,' being the same expression which is used in the LXX. of Dan. xi. 31, xii. 11 (see more fully p. 150). This, however, does not prove necessarily the use of the Book of Daniel by the author of 1 Macc.: the author of 1 Macc. may have known independently that the Jews of the Maccabee period called the heathen altar a (opvm) Omici yapw; and the identity of the Greek rendering (B8é vyua épnuaoews) may be accounted for in more ways than one: it may have been the conventional Greek rendering of the Heb. expression in question, or the translator of either book may have adopted it from the translation of the other. (3) In i Macc. ii. 59 f., in the speech put into the mouth of the dying Mattathias, after the mention of Abraham, Joseph, and other Israelitish worthies, who had been examples

· Schürer, ii. 581 (S 32); i Maccabees in the Cambridge Bible, p. 43.

[ocr errors]

of constancy and faith, there occur the words, 'Hananiah, Azariah, Mishael believed, and were saved out of the flame. Daniel in his guilelessness (év Tỹ átlórntı avtoû=ipna; cf. v. 37] was delivered from the mouth of lions,' with evident allusion to the narratives contained in Dan. iii. and vi. (4) The prayer in Baruch i. 15-iii. 8 contains (in i. 15-ii. 19) many nearly verbal similarities of expression with Dan. ix. 4—19, which shew incontestably either that the author of the one derived many of his expressions from the other, or that both were dependent upon a common source: it can scarcely, however, be said to be clear, beyond the reach of doubt, that it is the prayer in Daniel which is the original (see p. lxxv). (5) In the N.T. Daniel is mentioned by name in Mt. xxiv. 15 (but in the || Mk. xiii. 14 not in the best MSS.); and the narratives of the book are not improbably alluded to in Heb. xi. 33, 34 (Dan. vi., iii.). For instances in which the imagery or expression of the N.T. appears to have been suggested by the book see p. Ixxxy.

The external evidence which has been sometimes appealed to as tending to shew that the Book of Daniel was in existence before B.C. 168—165, is slight and inconclusive.

(i) The allusion, just noted, in 1 Macc. ii. 59, 60 does not prove more than that the narratives of Dan. iii. and vi. were known to the author of 1 Macc., who wrote pretty clearly (see xvi. 23, 24) after the close of the reign of John Hyrcanus, B.C. 135—105, probably about

B.C. 90.

(ii) The parallels between Dan. ix. 4–19 and Baruch i. 15-ii. 19 are numerous and striking: see Bar. i. 15 (Dan. ix. 7a, 8 a), 16 (ix. 8 6). 17 (ix. 8 end), 18 (ix. 96, 10), 20 al (ix. 11 b), 21 (ix. 10), ii. 1 a (ix. 12), 21 (ix. 12b, 13 a) 46 (ix. 166), 6 (ix. 7 a, 8 a), 71 (ix. 13 a), 8 (ix. 136), 91 (ix. 14), 10 (ix. 10), 11 a, 6, 12 a (ix. 15), 126, 13 a (ix. 16 a), 14 a (ix. 17 a), 14 ‘for thine own sake' (ix. 17), 156 (ix. 18 middle, 19 end), 166, 17 a (ix. 18 to‘eyes'), 19 (ix. 186); in other parts of the prayer in Baruch, there are reminiscences principally from Deut. and Jer. The Book of Baruch is manifestly of composite authorship; and i. 1—iii. 8 (if i. 1-14 is the real introduction to the sequel) purports to be a

[ocr errors]

1 N.B. “Plagues' in A.V., R.V. of i. 20, ii. 2, 7, 9, iii. 4=kakd= the 'evil' of Dan. ix. 12 (Gk. Kaká), 13, 14.

« السابقةمتابعة »