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ART. IX.-NOTICES OF RECENT PUBLICATIONS.
Manual of Historico-Critical Introduction to the Canonical Scriptures of the Old Testament. By Karl Freidrich Keil. Translated from the Second Edition, with Supplementary notes from Bleek and others, by George C. M. Douglas, D. D., Professor of Hebrew and Old Testament Exegesis in the Free Church College, Glasgow. Vol. II., 8vo, 435 pp. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. New York: Scribner, Welford & Co.
An Introduction to the New Testament. By Friedrich Bleek. Edited by Johannes Friedrich Bleek. Translated from the German of the Second Edition, by the Rev. William Urwick. Vol. II., 8vo, 426 pp. Edinburgh: T. & T. Clark. New York: Scribner, Welford & Co.
The introductions of Keil and Bleek have, from the date of their appearance, been esteemed the best and most serviceable manuals of the kind in Germany, where criticism and exegesis are prosecuted with a thoroughness, acuteness, and learned research unknown elsewhere. These works, which are indispensable to one who would acquaint himself with the latest and best results of Scriptural investigations, are now, by the publication of their second volumes, made entirely accessible to English readers.
The respective merits of these introductions, and the general character of the translations, were sufficiently stated in our notice of the preceding volumes. Keil and Bleek have both proceeded upon the idea which, since Reuss, has been the prevailing oue in Germany, of regarding introduction under the aspect of the literary history of the Bible. This gives to the subject a unity and scientific precision which it did not possess before, though it still leaves the true position of some important topics in doubt. With some minor diversities of arrangement, however, the plan pursued by both is the same. One of the most striking and obvious results of this method is the inversion of the order pursued in all the old introductions, by placing the special before the general portion of the subject. The questions of the canon and the text, the manuscripts, versions, etc., are postponed until the origin and character of each individual book has first been investigated. This may accord better with the historical order, but it is, in our judgment, of doubtful advantage in a text-book for theological classes.
In regard to some of the books of the New Testament, Bleek arrives at conclusions differing from the belief now currently entertained, though he does not, except in a single instance, pass beyond the limit of the doubts allowed in the early church, and mentioned, if not entertained, by some of the ablest and soundest of the fathers. He is disposed, with Eusebius, to discriminate among the books of the canon, and, while not venturing to exclude any from it that are now received, and still less inclined to admit any that are now excluded, he is of opinion that those books regarding whose canonicity no doubt has ever been expressed, and which have from the beginning been received without a discord
ant voice, as the undoubted production of the Apostles, or inspired apostolic helpers, should be assigned the first rank. To others, regarding which a portion of the early church was in doubt, he concedes only an inferior and limited authority. They are to a certain extent authentic testimonials of primitive Christianity, and yet they are at a partial remove from the purity of our Lord's teaching and that of his immediate Apostles.
The Epistle to the Hebrews he supposes not to have been written by Paul, but by one of his companions and fellow-laborers, a few years after his death, probably by Apollos. The Epistles of James and Jude, and the Revelation of John, were written by the persons whose names they severally bear. These, however, were not apostles, but other persons of note in the church, whose position entitled them to speak and write with the authority they here assume. James and Jude were the brothers of our Lord, the sons of Mary, and are to be distinguished from James, the son of Alpheus, or James the Less, and Jude his brother. John, who wrote the Revelation, was not the son of Zebedee, the Evangelist, or the author of the Epistles, but another John, of whom mention is made in the apostolic period, and who was an auditor of the immediate disciples of our Lord. First Timothy and Second Peter were written in the names of the Apostles Paul and Peter, but they belong to the second century of the Christian era, and are entitled to less consideration than any of these deutero-canonical writings, as he esteems them, though they tally essentially with the apostolic doctrines.
Much as we may regret these conclusions, and untenable as we regard them, we cannot but admit that the discussions are conducted with great apparent candor and a seemingly sincere love of truth. The arguments are frankly and fairly stated, and thus the materials for an independent judgment are afforded to the student even when the balance is struck the wrong way, and a weight conceded to objections to which they are not in reality entitled.
The Early Years of Christianity. By E. De Pressensé, D. D. Translated by Annie Harwood. "The Apostolic Era." New York: Charles Scribner & Co.
No other religion has been subjected, through all its history, to such tests as Christianity has stood. Taking its rise among an educated people, in an age of uncommon intelligence, and preached, in the first instance, by men of no superior education, it vindicated itself, from the first, to the conviction of many of the best informed as superior to all previous teaching. It has been encountered by enemies of great ability, in every age, and has always come off with the victory, when reliance has been put on spiritual arms. Platonic philosophers met it with their subtile inquiry, and found its teachings worthy of the gravest attention, and some of them became its converts; Stoics resisted it with all the force of their stubborn argument and inflexible moral system, and melted away before it. All the hostility of ancient learning failed to arrest its progress. Local authorities and the imperial government put forth their efforts to extinguish it by violence; and the issue was their own overthrow, and the establishment of Christianity on the throne. Greek dialectics and Roman legislation alike failed in the conflict with it. All succeeding philosophers e, at one time or another, tried their strength against it, and every new sciende has tested
its weapons in the strife, and all, when the smoke and dust of battle have cleared away, are found to have been driven from the field. The combatants, with whom it has had to contend. have always been the master-minds of the world, and its champions have been of the same calibre. Its believers have risen to the rank of the highest civilization, by force of the teaching and training it has given. It is the religion which prospers best the more thoroughly it is tested, and where intellect is strongest, most active and clear.
Inquiry into the origin of such a religion, and the character and labors of its first teachers cannot fail to be of intense interest at a time of profound and earnest thinking, when some of its effects are pervading the world to an unprecedented extent, while its enemies were never more insidious or better armed. Re-examination of the facts of early Christian history, and the sources of its power, is at present the great subject of serious thought. The Life of Christ and the lives of his Apostles are discussed from the separate points of view of all the different parties, as divided in relation to the subject.
In this controversy none have attained a more honorable distinction than Dr. Pressensé. His work on the religions before Christ, on the Life of Christ, and now on the Apostolic Era, cover the whole of that period of history. His treatment of the subject is animated and rapid, but packs much information and cogent argument into small space, and in a style clear and attractive. This volume, though not large, will be an important addition to the literature of the controversy.
Light-Houses and Light-Ships, a Descriptive and Historical Account of their Construction and Organization. By W. H. Davenport Adams. New York: Charles Scribner & Co.
Mr. Scribner's Illustrated Library of Wonders has already established for itself a standing of high scientific importance. It has already presented some of the most valuable discoveries in nature, in antiquities, in the structure of the human frame, and many of the achievements of art, in forms not only accessible, but highly attractive to the common reader. In the style of effort, now so generally made by scientific men themselves, to bring truth and recondite facts before the general public, this series of books is a happy success. Guided by the practical sagacity and Christian spirit of the publisher, whose conception it is, it will no doubt continue to be, as it has so far been, a means of making useful knowledge exceedingly entertaining.
A Manual of the Ancient History of the East to the Commencement of the Median Wars. By Francois Lenormant, Sub-Librarian of the Imperial Institute of France; and E. Chevalier, member of the Royal Asiatic Society, London. Philadelphia: J. B. Lippincott & Co. London: Asher & Co.
In continuation of their history of the pre-Hellenic world, Lenormant and Chevalier have presented, in this volume, the first great Aryan empire, and the latest of the Semitic; following the latter down to the extinction of their independence, and the former up to the summit of Persian success. Under the head of Aryan it may be thought that the Greeks and Hindoos should have been included; but the Greeks, inasmuch as they created a new style of culture, which had not yet been generally recognized, belong, not to the earlier, but to the later
antiquity; and India, for the present, has been omitted on account of the utter lack of definite information touching all that part of her existence prior to the Greek invasion.
Over the whole of the ancient Oriental period, where not included in the Hebrew narrative, there is a very generally extended veil of doubt. The testimony of monuments is positive as to isolated facts: but in many cases hopelessly disconnected, leaving the very foundations of history matter of conjecture. In their former volume these authors granted too much credence to such conjectures; in the present there is not so large a proportion of that tantalizing material, and a great part of its field comes within the orbit of Herodotus, where the results of antiquarian research give and receive confirmation from connected history.
The subjects of the volume are the Medes and Persians; the construction of the Medo-Persian empire, until the reign of Darius Hystaspis, the Phœnicians until their subjugation to Persia; Carthage until after the first treaty with Rome, and the opening of the first Sicilian war; and the Arabians under the three heads of Yemen, Hejaz, and Arabia Petræa.
The narrative is compact, and yet spirited; the arrangement well designed for instruction; and the style concise but easy and clear. For the purpose of giving a connected view of ancient Oriental history, according to the utmost of the resources which scholarship and the work of the antiquarian have amassed, and giving it unburdened by discussions, there is nothing else equal to this work of Lenormant and Chevalier.
Thoughts on Religious Experience. By the Rev. Archibald Alexander, D. D. Presbyterian Board of Publication.
Dr. Alexander was eminent for his learning, sagacity, and wisdom; for his theological insight, and more still for his devoutness and experimental piety. But the gift in which he was most unrivalled was that of guiding and quickening the religious experience of others; of awakening devout feeling, probing the heart, and exposing morbid and pseudo-religious exercises. This, not less than his great abilities and acquirements, gave him an influence for many years scarcely equalled by any divine in the American church. This volume contains the aroma of his spiritual wisdom and experience. We recollect the great benefit we derived from its heavenly instructions when they first appeared. And among all recent issues of the press we hardly know of any more precious reading for Christians whether young or old.
The True Unity of Christ's Church; being a Renewed Appeal to the Friends of the Redeemer, on Primitive Christian Union and the History of its Corruption. To which is now added a Modified Plan for the Reunion of all Evangelical Christians; Embracing as Integral Parts the World's Evangelical Alliance, with all its National Branches. By S. S. Schmucker, D. D. New York: Anson D. T. Randolph & Co. 1870.
The substance of this volume was published more than thirty years ago. It now appears with modifications in its third edition. The plan of union advocated by the venerable author is a sort of federative union among the various Evangelical churches, having a creed substantially like that of the Evangelical Alliance, but without any regular or formal ecclesiastical jurisdiction, this being left to the several bodies composing the federation and represented in it by