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RICHARD G. MOULTON, M.A. (CAMBR.), PH.D. (PENNA.)

PROFESSOR OF LITERATURE IN ENGLISH IN THE UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO

LATE UNIVERSITY EXTENSION LECTURER (CAMBRIDGE AND LONDON)

REVISED AND PARTLY REWRITTEN

AND

BOSTON, U.S.A.: D. C. HEATH & CO.

LONDON: ISBISTER & CO., LIMITED

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PREFACE TO THE SECOND EDITION

the poems

and

An author falls naturally into an apologetic tone if he is proposing to add yet one more to the number of books on the Bible. Yet I believe the number is few of those to whom the Bible appeals as literature. In part, no doubt, this is due to the forbidding form in which we allow the Bible to be presented to us. Let the reader imagine the poems of Wordsworth, the plays of Shakespeare, the essays of Bacon, and the histories of Motley to be bound together in a single volume ; let him suppose the titles of

essays cut out and the names of speakers and divisions of speeches removed, the whole divided up into sentences of a convenient length for parsing, and again into lessons containing a larger or smaller number of these sentences. If the reader can carry his imagination through these processes he will have before him a fair parallel to the literary form in which the Bible has come to the modern reader; it is true that the purpose for which it has been split into chapters and verses is something higher than instruction in parsing, but the injury to literary form remains the same.

Of course earnest students of Scripture get below the surface of isolated verses. Yet even in the case of deep students the literary element is in danger of being overpowered by other interests. The devout reader, following the Bible as the divine authority for his spiritual life, feels it a distraction to notice literary questions. And thereby he often impedes his own purpose : poring over a passage of Job to discover the message it has for him, and forgetting all the while the dramatic form of the book, as a result of which the speaker of the very passage he is studying is in the end pronounced by God himself to have said the thing that is “not right.” Another has been led by his studies to cast off the authority of the Bible, and he will not look for literary pleasure to that which has for him associations with a yoke from which he has been delivered. A third approaches Scripture with equal reverence and scholarship. Yet even for him there is a danger at the present moment, when the very bulk of the discussion tends to crowd out the thing discussed, and but one person is willing to read the Bible for every ten who are ready to read about it.

Now for all these types of readers the literary study of the Bible is a common meeting-ground. One who recognises that God has been pleased to put his revelation of himself in the form of literature, must surely go on to see that literary form is a thing worthy of study. The agnostic will not deny that, if every particle of authority and supernatural character be taken from the Bible, it will remain one of the world's great literatures, second to none. And the most polemic of all investigators must admit that appreciation is the end, and polemics only the means.

I am desirous that the reader should, from the outset, understand exactly in what sense I use the words I have adopted as the title of this work - The Literary Study of the Bible. Of course, the Bible being a literature, there is a sense in which every careful treatment of Scripture has a claim to be called literary study. Yet, in the sense in which I use the term, the Literary Study of the Bible is a new study. Its newness rests, not upon sudden advance in our knowledge of Semitic peoples and institutions, but upon our changed attitude to the whole field of literary investigation. It is not too much to say that the Study of Literature, properly so called, is only just beginning. In the past we have concerned ourselves, not with Literature, but with literatures : the writings of Greek, of Hebrew, of German writers have been reviewed in connection with the Greek, the Hebrew, the German language and history, as elements in Greek, Hebrew, German studies. We are now beginning to feel that there is a separate

entity, Literature, which claims to itself a special type of treatment. Such a change is a repetition of what has been seen elsewhere in the field of education and research. There was a time when Greek and German philosophical works were considered to belong to the special studies of Greek or German ; now everyone will recognise a Study of Philosophy, one and undivided, in relation to which Greek philosophy and German philosophy are contributing elements. So the investigation which recognises the unity of literature, and frames its methods solely in application to this literary field, is the newer Study of Literature ; and in the spirit of this study the present work has been undertaken.

A fundamental change in the scope of literary investigation carries other changes with it. When literature was linked with language and history in one common study, it was inevitable that the historical element in literature should become prominent. In the broader field of independent literary study the historical side of literature falls into the background. In its place another element comes into prominence — what may be called morphological treatment: the inquiry into the foundation forms of literature, such as Epic, Lyric, Dramatic, the varieties of these, and the detailed structure by which each form is built up. Nowhere has literary morphology so important a place as in application to the Sacred Scriptures. If the question be of Greek or of English, it is taken for granted that a large variety of literary types are to be expected. On the other hand, it comes to most people as a novelty to hear that the Bible is made up of epics, lyrics, dramas, essays, sonnets, philosophical works, histories, and the like. More than this, centuries of unliterary tradition have so affected the outer surface of Scripture, that the successive literary works appear joined together without distinction, until it becomes the hardest of tasks to determine, in the Bible, exactly where one work of literature ends and another begins. The morphological analysis of Scripture thus urgently required is precisely the purpose to which I have applied myself in the present work: it is 'An Account of the leading Forms of Literature represented in the Sacred Writ

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