Thursday, July 31, 2014


Results of the Discrepancies

What is the effect of the discrepancies, in relation to the integrity of the text, and to the moral influence of the Bible?

1. Text of Bible Not Unsettled

They neither unsettle the text, nor essentially impair its integrity. They fail to vitiate it, in any appreciable degree. The conclusion reached by eminent scholars and critics, after protracted and thorough investigation, is that the sacred text has been transmitted to us virtually unaltered.

Says Isaac Taylor, 1 "The evidence of the genuineness and authenticity of the Jewish and Christian scriptures has, for no other reason than a thought of the consequences that are involved in an admission of their truth, been treated with an unwarrantable disregard of logical equity, and even of the dictates of common sense. The poems of Anacreon, the tragedies of Sophocles, the plays of Terence, the epistles of Pliny, are adjudged to be safe from the imputation of spuriousness, or of material corruption; and yet evidence ten times greater as to

1 History of Transmission of Ancient Books, pp. 169-170.

its quantity, variety, and force, supports the genuineness of the poems of Isaiah, and the epistles of Paul."

Bishop Butler: 2 "There maybe mistakes of transcribers; there maybe other real or seeming mistakes, not easy to be particularly accounted for; but there are certainly no more things of this kind in the scripture, than what were to have been expected in books of such antiquity; and nothing in any wise sufficient to discredit the general narrative."

That the text of the Old Testament has been transmitted to us substantially intact, is a conceded point. In all but a few unimportant cases, the genuine reading is settled beyond dispute. The candid and scholarly Bleek 3 asserts that "the Hebrew manuscripts have been preserved unaltered generally; and this in a measure of which we find no second example in other works which have been multiplied and circulated by numerous manuscripts."

Keil: 4 "The Old Testament, like all the other books of antiquity, has been propagated by transcription. And thus it has happened, even in spite of the great care with which the Jews, who were filled with unbounded reverence for the holy scriptures, watched over their preservation and transmission without injury, that they could not escape the common lot of all ancient books. In the course of repeated copying many small errors crept into the text, and various readings came into existence, which be before us in the text as it is attested in the records belonging to the various centuries.. . . The copyists have committed these errors by seeing or hearing wrongly, by faithlessness of memory, and by other misunderstandings; yet not arbitrarily or intentionally. And by none of them have the essential contents of scripture been endangered."

Even De Wette, 5 comparing the Egyptians, Chaldeans, and Phoenicians with the Hebrews, observes, "From the former, either all the monuments of their literature have perished to the last fragment, or only single melancholy ruins survive, which in nothing diminish the loss of the rest; while, on the contrary, from the latter there is still extant a whole library of authors, so valuable and ancient that the writings of the Greeks are in comparison extremely young." This is a very significant concession from one of the leaders of modern rationalism.

Gesenius 6 says, "To state here in few words my creed, as to the condition of the Hebrew text in a critical respect. It cannot be denied, that through the anxious care of the Jewish critics, the text has been in general very well preserved."

2 Analogy, p. 288 (Malcom's edition).
3 Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 365.
4 Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 294-295.
5 Introd. to Old Testament, i. 23 (Parker's edition).
6 Biblical Repository, iii. 41.

"In the Hebrew manuscripts," says Prof. Stuart, 7 "that have been examined, some eight hundred thousand various readings actually occur as to the Hebrew consonants. How many as to the vowel-points and accents, no man knows. And the like to this is true of the New Testament. But, at the same time, it is equally true, that all these taken together do not change or materially affect any important point of doctrine, precept, or even history. A great proportion, indeed the mass, of variations in Hebrew manuscripts, when minutely scanned, amount to nothing more than the difference in spelling a multitude of English words. What matters it as to the meaning, whether one writes honour or honor, whether he writes centre or center?" Such scholars as Buxtorf, Bleek, Havernick, Keil, and others, affirm that the Jews took such extraordinary care in copying their sacred books, "that it was a practice to count not only the number of verses, but also that of the words, and even of the letters of the various books, in order to ascertain the middle verse, the middle word, and the middle letter of each book." 8

Keil 9 remarks that the Masora, a rabbinic critical work upon the Old Testament, contains an "enumeration of the verses, words, and letters of each book; information as to the middle word and middle letter of each book; enumeration of verses which contain the whole consonants of the alphabet, or only so many of them; and also of words which occur so many times in the Bible with this or that meaning, and of words written plene,' or 'defective.'"

Parker,10 in De Wette, gives, from Bishop Walton, a list of the number of times which each Hebrew letter occurs in the Old Testament. The same list may be found in Menasseh ben Israel's Conciliator.11

Bishop Herbert Marsh 12 has the following very just inference: "When we consider the rules which were observed by the Jews in transcribing the sacred writings, rules which were carried to an accuracy that bordered on superstition, there is reason to believe, that no work of antiquity has descended to the present age so free from alteration, as the Hebrew Bible."

The erudite translator 13 of Outram says, "There are not wanting proofs of the most scrupulous care of the Hebrew text on the part of the Jews." "No evidence has been adduced of their wilful alteration of any part of the Hebrew text." It was by such scrupulous and minute care as this, that the Jews preserved their sacred books from any important variation or corruption.

7 History of Old Testament Canon, p. 192. Revised ed. p. 178.
8 Bleek's Introduction to Old Testament, ii. 451—452.
9 Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 316.
10 Introduction to Old Testament, i. 357.
11 Vol. i. p. 250.
12 Lectures on Criticism and Interpretation, p. 57.
13 John Allen, in Modern Judaism, pp. 6-7 (Second edition).

Moreover, notwithstanding its minute discrepancies and "various readings," the text of the New Testament is better established than that of any other ancient book. No one of the so-called "classics," not Homer nor Herodotus, compares favorably, in this respect, with the New Testament. Says Prof. Stowe,14 "Of the manuscript copies of the Greek Testament, from seven hundred to one thousand of all kinds have been examined already by critics, and of these at least fifty are more than one thousand years old, and some are known to be at least fifteen hundred years old; while the oldest of the Greek classics scarcely reach the antiquity of nine hundred years, and of these the number is very small indeed, compared with those of the Greek Testament."

Among the Greek classical writers, Herodotus and Plato are of the first importance. The earliest manuscripts of Herodotus extant are, one in the Imperial library at Paris, "executed in the twelfth century"; one in the Florentine library, which Montfaucon assigns to the tenth century; and one in the library of Emmanuel College, Cambridge, England, which may possibly have been written in the ninth century.15 One of the earliest manuscripts of Plato is in the Bodleian Library at Oxford, and was executed not earlier than the ninth century.

Among the manuscripts of the New Testament, we have the Alexandrian, written about a.d. 350; the Vatican, written about a.d. 325; the Sinaitic, of date equally early; the Ephraim manuscript, "probably somewhat later than the Alexandrian, but of great critical value"; and the Beza manuscript, dating about a.d. 490.16 Other scholars substantially concur in these dates, though Alford 17 and Scrivener 18 assign the Alexandrian manuscript to the fifth century; that is, a.d. 400-500.

Here, then, we find five manuscripts of the Greek New Testament, the youngest of which is about fourteen hundred years old; and all of which may have been prepared by persons who had studied the original manuscripts written by the apostles themselves.

So far, therefore, as an authenticated and settled text is concerned, the classics are very far behind the New Testament.19 "There is not," says Tregelles, 20

14 Origin and History of Books of Bible, p. 60.
15 Taylor's History of Transmission of Ancient Books, pp. 276-278; compare Stowe, p. 59.
16 Stowe, pp. 65-77. See, also, Alford, Prolegomena to Greek Four Gospels, pp. 107-116; and Scrivener, Criticism of New Testament, pp. 76-103.
17 Prolegomena to Four Gospels, p. 107.
18 Criticism of New Testament, p. 82.
19 Dr. Bentley, in his annihilating reply to Collins, speaking of the manuscript copies of Terence, the oldest and best of which, now in the Vatican library, has "hundreds-of errors," observes, "I myself have collated several, and do affirm that I have seen twenty thousand various lections in that little author, not near so big as the New Testament; and am morally sure, that if half the number of manuscripts were collated for Terence with that niceness and minuteness which has been used in twice as many for the New Testament, the number of the variations would amount to above fifty thousand." And yet Terence is one of the best preserved of the classic writers.—Remarks upon a late Discourse, etc. Part i. Sec. 82.
20 New Testament Historic Evidence, p. 74.

"such a mass of transmissional evidence in favor of any classical work. The existing manuscripts of Herodotus and Thucydides are modern enough when compared with some of those of the New Testament."

In the fitting words of Scrivener, 21 "As the New Testament far surpasses all other remains of antiquity in value and interest, so are the copies of it yet existing in manuscript, and dating from the fourth century of our era downwards, far more numerous than those of the most celebrated writers of Greece or Rome. Such as have been already discovered and set down in catalogues are hardly fewer than two thousand; and many more must still linger unknown in the monastic libraries of the East. On the other hand, manuscripts of the most illustrious classic poets and philosophers are far rarer and comparatively modern. We have no complete copy of Homer himself prior to the thirteenth century, though some considerable fragments have been recently brought to light which may plausibly be assigned to the fifth century; while more than one work of high and deserved repute has been preserved to our times only in a single copy. Now the experience we gain, from a critical examination of the few classical manuscripts that survive, should make us thankful for the quality and abundance of those of the New Testament. These last present us with a vast and almost inexhaustible supply of materials for tracing the history, and upholding (at least within certain limits) the purity of the sacred text; every copy, if used diligently and with judgment, will contribute somewhat to these ends. So far is the copiousness of our stores from causing doubt or perplexity to the genuine student of holy scripture, that it leads him to recognize the more fully its general integrity in the midst of partial variation."

With equal felicity and truthfulness, Isaac Taylor, 22 on the proof of the genuineness of the scriptures, observes: "And as the facts on which this proof depends are precisely of the same kind in profane, as in sacred literature, and as the same principles of evidence are applicable to all questions relating to the genuineness of ancient books, it is highly desirable that the proof of the genuineness of the sacred writings should be viewed, in its place, as forming a part only of a general argument, which bears equally upon the entire literary remains of antiquity. For it is only when so viewed, that the comparative strength and completeness of the proof which belongs to this particular case, can be duly estimated. When exhibited in this light, it will be seen that the integrity of the records of the Christian faith is substantiated by evidence in a tenfold proportion

21 Criticism of New Testament, pp. 3-4.
22 History of Transmission of Ancient Books, p. 5

more various, copious, and conclusive 23 than that which can be adduced in support of any other ancient writings. If, therefore, the question had no other importance belonging to it than what may attach to a purely literary inquiry, or if only the strict justice of the case were regarded, the authenticity of the Jewish and Christian scriptures could never come to be controverted, till the entire body of classical literature had been proved to be spurious."

Nor does the Bible suffer by comparison with books of later date. For the text of Shakespeare, which has been in existence less than two hundred and fifty years, is "far more uncertain and corrupt than that of the New Testament, now over eighteen centuries old, during nearly fifteen of which it existed only in manuscript. The industry of collators and commentators indeed has collected a formidable array of Various readings in the Greek text of the scriptures, but the number of those which have any good claim to be received, and which also seriously affect the sense, is so small that they may almost be counted upon the fingers. With perhaps a dozen or twenty exceptions, the text of every verse in the New Testament may be said to be so far settled by the general consent of scholars, that any dispute as to its meaning must relate rather to the interpretation of the words, than to any doubts respecting the words, themselves. But in every one of Shakespeare's thirty-seven plays, there are probably a hundred readings still in dispute, a large proportion of which materially affect the meaning of the passages in which they occur."24

The probability that trivial variations would be found in considerable numbers will be seen when we reflect that, according to Prof. Norton's 25 estimate, there were, at the end of the second century, as many as sixty thousand manuscript copies of the Gospels in existence. That these variations are of slight importance we have already seen; so that in spite of the "fifty thousand various readings" 26 of which we are often told, he must be very ignorant or very mendacious who represents the text of the New Testament as in a dubious and unsettled state. Its antiquity and all other circumstances being taken into the account, there is no other book which compares with it in possessing a settled and authenticated text.
The famous Bentley, 27 one of the ablest critics England has ever seen, observes: "The real text of the sacred writers does not now (since the originals have been so long lost) lie in any single manuscript or edition, but is dispersed in them all. 'Tis competently exact indeed, even in the worst manuscript now

23 The italics are our own.
24 North American Review, quoted in Stowe's Origin and History of Books of Bible, p. 82.
25 Genuineness of the Gospels, i. 50—53.
26 See as to the probable number, Scrivener's Criticism of New Testament, p. 3
27 Remarks upon a late Discourse of Free Thinking, Part i. Sec. 32.

extant; nor is one article of faith or moral precept either perverted or lost in them, choose as awkardly as you can, choose the worst by design, out of the whole lump of readings." Again he adds, "Make your thirty thousand (variations) as many more, if numbers of copies can ever reach that sum; all the better to a knowing and serious reader, who is thereby more richly furnished to select what he sees genuine. But even put them into the hands of a knave or a fool, and yet with the most sinistrous and absurd choice, he shall not extinguish the light of any one chapter, nor disguise Christianity but that every feature of it will be the same."

When men seek to impugn the credibility of the Bible, by alleging "discrepancies "and "various readings," we may safely answer, with Prof. Stuart,28 that they are so easily accounted for, and of so little importance, that "they make nothing of serious import against the claims which the matter, the manner, and the character of the scriptures prefer as the stable ground of our belief and confidence and obedience."

Very pertinently says Dr. Hodge, 29 "These apparent discrepancies, although numerous, are for the most part trivial; relating in most cases to numbers or dates. The great majority of them are only apparent, and yield to careful examination. Many of them may be fairly ascribed to errors of transcribers. The marvel and the miracle is, that there are so few of any real importance. Considering that the different books of the Bible were written not only by different authors, but by men of all degrees of culture, living in the course of fifteen hundred or two thousand years, it is altogether unaccountable that they should agree perfectly, on any other hypothesis than that the writers were under the guidance of the Spirit of God. In this respect, as in all others, the Bible stands alone.. . . The errors in matters of fact which sceptics search out bear no proportion to the whole. No sane man would deny that the Parthenon was built of marble, even if here and there a speck of sandstone should be detected in its structure."

"The subject of various readings," observes President Hopkins, 30 "was at one time so presented as to alarm and disquiet those not acquainted with the facts. When a person hears it stated that, in the collation of the manuscripts for Griesbach's edition of the New Testament, as many as one hundred and fifty thousand various readings were discovered, he is ready to suppose that everything must be in a state of uncertainty. A statement of the facts relieves every difficulty. The truth is, that not one in a thousand makes any perceptible, or at least important, variation in the meaning; that they consist almost entirely of

28 History of Old Testament Canon, p. 104. Revised edition, p. 180
29 Theology, i. 169-170.
30 Evidences of Christianity, p. 289.

the small and obvious mistakes of transcribers, such as the omission or transposition of letters, errors in grammar, in the use of one word for another of a similar meaning, and in changing the position of words in a sentence. But by all the omissions, and all the additions, contained in all the manuscripts, no fact, no doctrine, no duty prescribed, in our authorized version, is rendered either obscure or doubtful."

2. Moral Influence of the Bible Not Impaired

Moreover, as the text of scripture is not vitiated, so its moral influence and. efficacy is not essentially impaired by all the "contradictions" which lynx-eyed infidelity has discovered, or affected to discover, in it. In respect to them, Prof. Bush 31 strikingly and felicitously remarks, "Their apparent contrariety shows at least with what confidence the book of God appeals to our reason on the ground of the general evidence of its origin, exhibiting, as it does, such examples of literal self-conflict in particular passages. A work of imposture could not afford to be thus seemingly indifferent to appearances."

We thus see how the mighty moral prestige of the Bible resolves these apparent objections into strong presumptions in its favor. The truth of our proposition becomes obvious when we carefully consider the influence of the Bible, both upon individuals and upon society in general—-its effect upon mankind.

We cannot specify here, what every community furnishes, instances of men once dishonest, turbulent, profane, sensual, or drunken, who, under the influence of the Bible, have thoroughly reformed their conduct and life, and become as remarkable for meekness, benevolence, purity, and self-control as they had previously been notorious for the opposite traits.

Among those who have recognized the influence of the Bible, and bowed reverently to its authority, we find many of the "foremost men" of the race—-the acutest and most powerful intellects, the most distinguished poets, statesmen, and scholars whom the world has ever seen. It would be superfluous to name Milton and Dante; Bacon, Newton, and Leibnitz; Boyle, Locke, and Butler; Hale and Grotius; Pascal and Faraday; Washington and Wilberforce.

Had the Bible been, as some assert, full of irreconcilable discrepancies and insoluble difficulties, it could scarcely have commanded the homage of such

Notes on Exodus, Vol. i. p. 295.

minds and hearts as these. For, it is not extravagant to say that these men were as acute in detecting imposture, and as competent to discriminate between truth and falsehood as are, in our own time, the Bishop of Natal and the Duke of Somerset.

In proof of the power of the Bible to leaven and renovate society, we need only point to the Sandwich Islands, and to the mission fields and schools of India and Turkey; we need but allude to the marked difference between nations which have received the Bible and those which have rejected it—-between Prussia and France, between England and Spain. On a candid survey of the field, we see the correctness of Chancellor Kent's saying: "The general diffusion of the Bible is the most effectual way to civilize and humanize mankind; to purify and exalt the general system of public morals; to give efficacy to the just precepts of international and municipal law; to enforce the observance of prudence, temperance, justice, and fortitude; and to improve all the relations of social and domestic life."

It was well affirmed by John Locke, "That the holy scriptures are one of the greatest blessings which God bestows upon the sons of men, is generally acknowledged by all who know anything of the value and worth of them."

We, therefore, deem the position an impregnable one, that all the discrepancies and objections which the teeming brain and malignant heart of infidelity have been able to conjure up and rake together, do not in any essential degree detract from the value of the inspired volume, nor diminish its wonderful and beneficent moral power.

Nor does infidelity furnish any substitute for the Bible. It points us all in vain to Confucius, Zoroaster, and the Vedas, to the cold and arrogant teachings of positivism, to the barren negations and ever-discordant utterances of rationalism. Never book spake like the Bible. No other comes home to the heart and conscience, with light and power and healing as does this. It teaches man how to live and how to die.

A celebrated infidel is said to have exclaimed in his last moments, "I am about to take a leaf in the dark." Cast the Bible aside, and every man at death takes a "leap in the dark."

In the language of an eminent writer, 32 "Weary human nature lays its head on this bosom, or it has nowhere to lay its head. Tremblers on the verge of the dark and terrible valley which parts the land of the living from the untried

Dr. Rorison, in Replies to Essays and Reviews, pp. 340-341 (2d edition).

hereafter, take this hand of human tenderness, yet godlike strength, or they totter into the gloom without prop or stay They who look their last on the beloved dead listen to this voice of soothing and peace, else death is no uplifting of everlasting doors, and no enfolding in everlasting arms, but an enemy as appalling to the reason as to the senses, the usher to a charnel-house where highest faculties and noblest feelings lie crushed with the animal wreck; an infinite tragedy, maddening, soul-sickening—a 'blackness of darkness forever'"

"Thy word is a lamp onto my feet, and a light unto my path" 33

We cannot but agree with Lord Chief Justice Hale, that "there is no book like the Bible for excellent learning, wisdom, and use"; we must, with Sir Isaac Newton, "account the scriptures of God to be the most sublime philosophy," and to exhibit "more sure marks of authenticity than any profane history whatsoever."

In considering the solutions hereafter proposed, the legitimate force of a hypothesis should be kept in mind. If a certain hypothesis meets the exigencies of a given case, then, unless it can be proven false or absurd, its logical value is to set aside any and all objections, and to secure a strong presumption in its own favor. 34 For instance, it is said: "Here is a case in which the Bible contradicts itself." We reply: "Here is a hypothesis which serves to explain and reconcile the disagreement." Now, unless our hypothesis can be proven untrue or irrational, it stands, and the objection is effectually met. In such cases, the burden of proof devolves upon the objector.

The solutions proposed in the following pages are hypothetical; though, in the majority of cases, the probability amounts to almost absolute certainty. In offering these solutions, we neither assert nor undertake to prove that they are the only, or even the actual solutions; we merely affirm that they are reasonable explanations of each case respectively, and, for aught that can be shown to the contrary, they may be the real ones. Therefore, according to the principles of logic and common sense, they countervail and neutralize the discrepancies

33 Psalm 119:105.
34 Prof. Henry Rogers well says, "The objector is always apt to take it for granted that the discrepancy is real; though it may be easy to suppose a case (and a possible case is quite sufficient for the purpose) which would neutralize the objection. Of this perverseness (we can call it by no other name) the examples are perpetual.... It may be objected, perhaps, that the gratuitous supposition of some unmentioned fact—which, if mentioned, would harmonize the apparently counterstatements of two historians—cannot be admitted, and is, in fact, a surrender of the argument. But to say so, is only to betray an utter ignorance of what the argument is. If an objection be founded on the alleged absolute contradiction of two statements, it is quite sufficient to show any (not the real, but only a hypothetical and possible) medium of reconciling them; and the objection is in all fairness dissolved; and this would be felt by the honest logician, even if we did not know of any such instances in point of fact. We do know, however, of many."—Reason and Faith, pp. 401-403 (Boston edition).

which are adduced, and leave the unity and integrity and divine authority of the sacred volume unimpaired.

The Discrepancies of Scripture may, perhaps, be most suitably arranged under three heads: 35 the Doctrinal, including questions of theology; the Ethical, pertaining to human duties and morals; the Historical, relating to persons, places, numbers, and time; with some miscellaneous cases.

Of such a vast and incongruous mass of materials as has accumulated during the investigation, it has seemed well nigh impossible to make a rigorously exact and clearly-defined classification. Obviously, many of the following cases might, from their complex or feebly marked character, fall equally well in some other, or in more than one, of the divisions. In such cases, that arrangement has been adopted which seemed most natural and obvious. The most prominent or important element in a difficult passage has determined the class to which that passage should be referred.

If anything has been lost in scientific precision and nicety, it is believed that much has been gained in simplicity, convenience, and practical utility, by abandoning the attempt at a complex, logical classification, and grouping the discrepancies under a few characteristic heads.

For other methods of classification, see Davidson's Sacred Hermenentics, p. 520.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014


Design of the Discrepancies

Why were the discrepancies permitted to exist? What good end do they contemplate?

1. To Stimulate the Intellect

They were doubtless intended as a stimulus to the human intellect, as provocative of mental effort. They serve to awaken curiosity and to appeal to the love of novelty.

The Bible is a wonderful book. No other has been studied so much, or called forth a tithe of the criticism which this has elicited. "No book, not nature itself, has ever waked up intellectual activity like the Bible. On the battlefield of truth, it has ever been round this that the conflict has raged. What book besides ever caused the writing of so many other books? Take from the libraries of Christendom all those which have sprung, I will not say indirectly, but directly from it—those written to oppose, or defend, or elucidate it—-and how would they be diminished! The very multitude of infidel books is a witness to the power with which the Bible stimulates the intellect. Why do we not see the amount of active intellect coming up, and dashing and roaring around the  Koran?"1

The discrepancies of the sacred volume have played no insignificant part 'In this incitement of mental action.' Though but a subordinate characteristic, they have prompted men to "search the scriptures," and to ask: How are these difficulties to be resolved? Things which are "hard to be understood," present special attractions to the inquiring mind. Professor Park 2 observes, in an admirable essay on the choice of texts, "Sometimes a deeper interest is awakened by examining two or more passages which appear to contradict each other than by examining two or more which resemble each other. Men are eager to learn the meaning and force of a text, one part of which is John 15:15: 'All things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you,' and the other part is John 16:12: 'I have yet many things to say unto you; but ye cannot bear them now.' Why did our Lord utter the second part of this text after the first part, yet in the same hour with it? The Bible rouses the mind from its torpid state by declaring that man dieth and is not, and yet lives forever; that man is a worm of the dust, and jet is made little lower than the angels; that he must love, and yet hate his father, mother, brother, sister; that every man must bear his own burden, and yet each one bear the burdens of his brethren; that man's body will be raised from the grave, and yet not the same body; that Christ was ignorant of some things, and yet knew all things; that he could not bear his own cross, and yet upholdeth all things by the word of his power. When two classes of passages stand in apparently hostile array against each other at the opening of a sermon, the somnolent hearer is kept awake in order to see how the conflict will end. He may be raised by the discourse from his natural love of learning the truth to a gracious love of the truth which is learned."

Whately 3 says: "The seeming contradictions in scripture are too numerous not to be the result of design; and doubtless were designed, not as mere difficulties to try our faith and patience, but as furnishing the most suitable mode of instruction that could have been devised, by mutually explaining and modifying or limiting or extending one another's meaning."

Elsewhere, urging the same thought, he observes: "Instructions thus conveyed are evidently more striking and more likely to arouse the attention; and also, from the very circumstance that they call for careful reflection, more likely to make a lasting impression."

1 President Hopkins, Evidences of Christianity, p. 144.
2 Bib. Sacra, Oct. 1873. pp. 717-718.
3 On Difficulties in Writings of St. Paul, Essay vii. Sec. 4.

Again, illustrating, as beautifully as suggestively, by the case of the mariner who steers midway between certain landmarks, he adds: "Even thus, it will often happen that two apparently opposite passages of scripture may together enable us to direct our faith or our practice aright; one shall be calculated to guard us against certain errors on one side, and the other, on the other side; neither, taken alone, shall convey the exact and entire truth; but both taken in conjunction may enable us sufficiently to ascertain it." He also ingeniously compares the colliding texts to several mechanical forces or impulses, acting upon a body to be set in motion; their resultant impelling it in the direction required, though no one of the impulses, taken singly, is acting precisely in that direction.

The rabbis have a saying that "the book of Chronicles was given for argument," that is, to incite men to investigation and discussion. 4 The history of sacred criticism demonstrates that the book has answered this purpose remarkably well; its discrepancies being salient points which attract attention.

Not only do these "hard" things induce men to investigate the sacred volume; but meanwhile resolving themselves before the steady and patient eye of the student, they unfold deep and rich meanings which amply reward his toil. This process is exemplified in the case of the scholar quoted above. He observes: "I well remember when it seemed to me that there was a direct contradiction between Paul and James on the subject of faith and works. I can now see that they not only do not contradict each other, but harmonize perfectly." 5

Says Professor Stuart: 6 "In the early part of my biblical studies, some thirty to thirty-five years ago, when I first began the critical investigation of the scriptures, doubts and difficulties started up on every side, like the armed men whom Cadmus is fabled to have raised up. Time, patience, continued study, a better acquaintance with the original scriptural languages and, the countries where the sacred books were written, have scattered to the winds nearly all these doubts."

In this manner, the difficulties of scripture often keenly stimulate and richly reward intellectual effort.


2. Illustrate Analogy of Bible and Nature

They were meant to be illustrative of the analogy between the Bible and nature, and so to evince their common origin. The "self-contradictions" of the Bible

4 Rashi, referring to 1 Chronicles 8:38, "And Azel had six sons," quaintly and pithily observes: "What the wise men have said about these 'six sons,'would load thirteen thousand camels."
5 Evidences of Christianity, p. 354.
6 History of Old Testament Canon, p. 18. Revised ed. p. 16.

are produced on a grander scale in nature. Wherever we turn our eyes, the material universe affords unmistakable traces of infinite wisdom, power, and benevolence. The starry heavens, the earth robed in vernal green, the bright, glad sunshine, the balmy breezes, the refreshing dews and showers, the sweet song birds, the flowers of brilliant hues and delicious odors, the wonderful and countless forms of vegetation, the infinite varieties of insect and animal life, the nice adaptations and benevolent contrivances for their welfare everywhere visible in nature—all these proclaim the attributes and speak forth the praise of the Creator.

But, looking into the same arena from another point of view, we see a very different spectacle. Want and woe, sorrow and suffering, appear dominant in the world. Frost and fire, famine and pestilence, earthquake, volcano, and hurricane, war and intemperance, a thousand diseases and ten thousand accidents, are doing their deadly work upon our fellow creatures. All this fearful devastation is going on in a world created and governed by infinite wisdom, power, and love. Milton's terrible picture 7 too often finds its counterpart. Nowhere in the Bible do we behold such a gigantic inconsistency, such an irrepressible conflict, as in the scene before us. Let a man solve the grand problem of the ages; let him tell us why an infinitely wise, powerful, and benevolent Creator allowed evil to enter at all his universe—let him explain this contradiction, and we may safely engage to explain those which occur in the Bible. For none of them—not all together—are so dark, unfathomable, and appalling as this one grand, ultimate Discrepancy. . . Says Origen: "He who believes the scripture to have proceeded from him who is the Author of nature, may well expect to find the same sort of difficulties in it as are found in the constitution of nature." Bishop Butler 8 pertinently adds,

7 "Immediately a place
Before his eyes appeared, sad, noisome, dark,
A lazar-house it seemed, wherein were laid
Numbers of all diseased, all maladies
Of ghastly spasm or racking torture, qualms 
Of heart-sick agony, all feverous kinds, 
Convulsions, epilepsies, fierce catarrhs, 
Intestine stone and ulcer, colic pangs, 
Demoniac frenzy, moping melancholy, 
And moon-struck madness, pining atrophy, 
Marasmus, and wide-wasting pestilence, 
Dropsies and asthmas, and joint-racking rheums.
Dire was the tossing, deep the groans; 
Despair tended the sick, busiest, from couch to couch; 
And over them triumphant Death his dart 
Shook, but delayed to strike, though oft invoked 
With vows, as their chief good and final hope.
Sight so deform, what heart of rock could long 
Dry-eyed behold?"—Par. Lost, B. xi, line 477-495.

8 Introduction to Analogy, p. 70 (Malcom's edition).

that "he who denies the scripture to have been from God, on account of these difficulties, may, for the very same reason, deny the world to have been formed by him."

In nature, then, we perceive mighty discords, tremendous antagonisms, which in appearance seriously involve and militate against the character and attributes of God. Nevertheless, nature is confessedly his work. Now, we find the Bible claiming the same supernatural origin, and exhibiting, among other features of resemblance, similar, though far less important, discrepancies; hence these latter afford a valid presumption in favor of its claim.

Nearly in the same line of thought, says Dr. Charles Hodge: 9 "The universe teems with evidences of design, so manifold, so diverse, so wonderful as to overwhelm the mind with the conviction that it has had an intelligent author. Yet here and there isolated cases of monstrosity appear. It is irrational, because we cannot account for such cases, to deny that the universe is the product of intelligence. So the Christian need not renounce his faith in the plenary inspiration of the Bible, although there may be some things about it, in its present state, which he cannot account for."

If we may credit the philosophers, even the higher walks of science are not free from "stumbling-blocks." Kant, Hamilton, and Mansel teach that our reason, that the necessary laws of thought which govern our mental operations, lead to absolute contradictions.10 Mansel11 observes, "The conception of the Absolute and Infinite, from whatever side we view it, appears encompassed with contradictions. There is a contradiction in supposing such an object to exist, whether alone or in conjunction with others; and there is a contradiction in supposing it not to exist. There is a contradiction in conceiving it as one; and there is a contradiction in conceiving it as many. There is a contradiction in conceiving it as personal; and there is a contradiction in conceiving it as impersonal. It cannot without contradiction be represented as active; nor without equal contradiction be represented as inactive. It cannot be conceived as the sum of all existence; nor yet can it be conceived as a part only of that sum."

Again he says, "It is our duty, then, to think of God as personal; and it is our duty to believe that he is infinite. It is true that we cannot reconcile these two representations with each other; as our conception of personality involves attributes apparently contradictory to the notion of infinity."

9 Theology, i. 170.
10 Dr. Hodge, Theology, i. 362.
11 Limits of Religious Thought, pp. 84-85, and 106 (American edition).

It would seem that our prospect of escaping contradictions by casting the Bible aside and betaking ourselves to philosophy, is quite unpromising. Notwithstanding the "discrepancies," the wisest course may be to retain the Bible for the present, and await further developments.

3. Disprove Collusion of Sacred Writers

The disagreements of scripture were beyond question designed as a strong incidental proof that there was no collusion among the sacred writers. Their differences go far to establish in this way the credibility of these authors.

The inspired narratives exhibit "substantial agreement with circumstantial variation." This is precisely what a court of justice requires in respect of the testimony of witnesses. Should their evidence agree precisely in every word and syllable, this fact would be held by the court proof of conspiracy. The well-known "Howland Will Case,"12 in New Bedford, some years since, affords an illustration of the principle. In this famous case some one or two millions of dollars was at stake, and over one hundred and fifty thousand dollars were expended for costs and counsel fees in two years. Upon the case were brought to bear the resources of many of the ablest counsel in New England, and the skill of the most ingenious scientific experts of the United States. The main issue of fact raised was whether the signature to the second page was written by Miss How-land, or whether it was a forgery. The minute and exact resemblance of the first and second signatures, in all points, was the grand stumbling-block in the case. In a word, the signatures agreed too well.

Now, had the biblical writers agreed in all particulars, even the minutest, had there been no discrepancies in their testimony, the cry of "Collusion, Collusion!" would have passed along the whole infidel line, from Celsus and Porphyry down to Colenso and Renan. We maintain, therefore, that the very discrepancies, lying as they do upon the surface, without reaching the subject matter, the kernel of scripture-—and being, moreover, capable of adjustment—are so many proofs of its authenticity and credibility.

As to the "various readings,"13 in the manuscripts of the New Testament, Wordsworth 14 says, "These discrepancies being such as they are found to be, are of inestimable value. They show that there has been no collusion among our witnesses,

12 See American Law Review, July, 1870, pp. 625-663.
13 This term denotes differences in the spelling, choice, and arrangement of words in the Greek text.
14 Preface to Greek Four Gospels, p. xxii.

and that our manuscript copies of the Gospels, about five hundred in number, and brought to us from all parts of the world, have not been mutilated or interpolated with any sinister design; that they have not been tampered with by any religious sect, for the sake of propagating any private opinion as the word of God. These discrepancies are, in fact, evidences of the purity and integrity of the sacred text. They show that the scriptures which we now hold in our hands in the nineteenth century, are identical with those which were received by the church in the first century as written by the Holy Ghost." That the "various readings" are thus proofs of the substantial identity of our New Testament with the inspired original is clear. The Greek Testament has come down to us, to all intents and purposes, unimpaired. Each of the five hundred manuscripts, with its slight variations in the orthography, selection, and collocation of words, is an independent witness to this fact.

The disagreements of the sacred writers effectually bar the charge of "conspiracy" on their part.


4. Lead to Value the Spirit above the Letter of the Bible

Another object of the discrepancies was, it may be presumed, to lead us to value the spirit beyond the letter of the scriptures, to prize the essentials of Christianity rather than its form and accidents. Many things point in the same direction. For example, we have no portrait of Jesus, no authentic description of his person. No wood of the "true cross" remains to our day. It is not difficult to divine the reason why no relics of this kind are left to us. Suppose the original text of the holy volume had been miraculously transmitted, in the very handwriting of the authors, and perfect in every letter and figure. The world would have gone mad over it. Idolatry the most stupendous would have accumulated around it. Crusades, more bloody and disastrous than those for the recovery of the holy sepulchre, would have been conducted for its possession. It would have ensanguined and darkened the whole history of the Christian religion. Men would have worshipped the letter in flagrant opposition to the spirit of the sacred book. Doubtless, with a view to counteract this tendency to idolatry and formalism, the scriptures are given to us in their present condition. Our attention is thereby diverted from the external and formal features to the internal and essential elements of scripture. The numerous manuscripts with their trivial differences, the so-called "imperfections" of our present text, together with the "self-contradictions" of the sacred books-—-all afford a fresh application and illustration of the inspired saying, "The letter killeth, but the spirit giveth life."


5. Serve as a Test of Moral Character

The biblical discrepancies were plainly appointed as a test of moral character; and, probably, to serve an important judicial purpose. They may be regarded as constituting no insignificant element of the means and conditions of man's probation.

There is a peculiar and striking analogy and harmony between the external form and the interior doctrines of the Bible. Both alike present difficulties-—sometimes formidable—to the inquirer. Both alike put his sincerity and firmness to full proof. Hence, as Grotius 15 has fitly said, the Gospel becomes a touchstone to test the honesty of mens dispositions.

Our Savior's teachings were often clothed in forms which to the indifferent or prejudiced hearer must have seemed obscure, if not offensive. To the cavilling and sceptical Jews he spoke many things in parables, that seeing they might see and not perceive, and hearing they might hear and not understand.16 When he said, "Except ye eat the flesh of the Son of Man, and drink his blood, ye have no life in you,"17 he intentionally used such phraseology as would be repugnant to insincere and squeamish hearers. He thus tested and disclosed men's characters and motives, and sifted out the chaff among his hearers. "From that time, many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him."18 The seeming harshness and obscurity of his sayings served to rid him of those followers who were not of teachable spirit, and thoroughly in earnest, and who would not look beneath the surface. The indolent and superficial, the proud and fastidious, were discouraged and repelled by the rough husk in which the doctrinal kernel was encased.

In an analogous manner, the apparent contradictions of the Bible afford "opportunity to an unfair mind for explaining away and deceitfully hiding from itself that evidence which it might see."19 Our treatment of the external no less than that of the internal difficulties of scripture bears an intimate relation to our moral character.

Those who are disposed to cavil do, in the wise arrangement of God, find opportunities for caviling. The disposition does not miss the occasion.

15 De Veritate Religionis Christianae, lib. ii, §19.
16 Mark 4:12.
17 John 6:53.
18 John 6:66.
19 Butler's Analogy, Part ii. chap, vi.

In the words of Isaac Taylor: 20 "The very conditions of a Revelation that has been consigned to various records in the course of thirty centuries involve a liability to the renewal of exceptive argumentation, which easily finds points of lodgment upon so large a surface. . . . The very same extent of surface from which a better reason, and a more healthful moral feeling gather an irresistible conviction of the nearness of God throughout it, furnishes to an astute and frigid critical faculty, a thousand and one instances over which to proclaim a petty triumph." Or, as Pascal 21 has beautifully expressed it, God "willing to be revealed to those who seek him with their whole heart, and hidden from those who as cordially fly from him, has so regulated the means of knowing him, as to give indications of himself, which are plain to those who seek him, and obscure to those who seek him not. There is light enough for those whose main wish is to see; and darkness enough for those of an opposite disposition."

That the difficulties of the Bible were intended, moreover, to serve a penal end seems by no means improbable. Those persons who cherish a caviling spirit, who are bent upon misapprehending the truth, and urging captious and frivolous objections, find in the inspired volume, difficulties and disagreements which would seem to have been designed as stumbling-stones for those which "stumble at the word, being disobedient: whereunto also they were appointed." 22 Upon the willful votaries of error God sends "strong delusion, that they should believe a lie," 23 that they might work out their own condemnation and ruin.

"If we disparage scripture, and treat it as any other book, then Almighty God, who is the author of scripture, will punish us by our own devices. He will 'choose our delusions'; he will 'chastise us by our wickedness, and 'reprove us by our back-slidings,' and give us the reward of our own hands.' Our presumption and our irreverence will be the instruments of our punishment." 24 In the divine government of this world, sin not infrequently carries its reward in its own bosom.

When the difficulties of scripture are approached with a docile and reverent mind, they may tend to our establishment in the faith; but, when they are dealt with in a querulous and disingenuous manner, they may become judicial agencies in linking to caviling scepticism its appropriate penalty—even to the loss of the soul.

20 Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, preface.
21 Thoughts, chap, xiii Sec. 1 and 2 (Andover edition).
22 1 Peter 2:8.
23 2 Thessalonians 2:11.
24 Replies to Essays and Reviews, p. 485 (English edition).



by  John  Haley


John Haley wrote this book in response to those who doubted the Bible's infallibility by referencing so-called "self-contradictions of the Bible." He saw the abundance of pamphlets and discussions on discrepancies in the Bible compared to the lack of consideration they were given by evangelical authors and resolved to strive for a better balance. Of the lack of Christian guidance on the subject, he said, "I know of no work, ancient or modern, which covers the whole ground, treating the subject comprehensively yet concisely, and which is, at the same time, adapted to general circulation."

The view with which he undertook the writing of this text was one of honest outlaying of the truth. He acknowledged the hesitancy of some regarding his project by saying, "Some persons may, perchance, question the wisdom of publishing a work in which the difficulties of Scripture are brought together and set forth so plainly. They may think it better to suppress, as far as may be, the knowledge of these things. The author does not sympathize with any such timid policy. He counts it the duty of the Christian scholar to look difficulties and objections squarely in the face." Haley felt that there was nothing to be gained from merely overlooking or evading any apparent contradictions in the Bible. Besides, the enemies of the Bible would not remain silent, so why should he? "The poison demands an antidote," he wrote. "The remedy should be carried wherever the disease has made its blighting way."

Haley, however, did not take on so large a task as to attempt to refute all objections to Scripture. Instead, he left those difficulties dealing with secular history and science in the hands of more able persons, concerning himself only with those Scripture passages that seemed to be in conflict with one another. He sought to explain those places where the Bible appears to be inconsistent with itself.

Haley's first action was to read a large number of texts that pointed out discrepancies in the Bible, making a collection of the false arguments so that he might refute them. He then classified them and addressed each one. He also included numerous quotations and references to other biblical scholars with an aim to express the unanimity of scholarly biblical thought on certain points. Though unconcerned that the many quotations might make his book look more like a compilation than an individual scholar's work, Haley was concerned about retaining all pertinent information in the quotations while still keeping them short. For this reason, you may notice that some quotations have been abridged by eliminating subordinate clauses or other material deemed unnecessary to the readers' understanding.

In addition, the alphabetical organization of the text has resulted in some of the chapters appearing disconnected and fragmentary. However, it was thought that any other method of classification would probably have different, although equally challenging, problems. And since it was very likely that a reader would use this text as a reference book instead of reading through it consecutively, alphabetical organization was deemed best.

Sometimes several solutions to a difficulty are given, leaving the reader to choose for himself. Of course not all possible solutions are presented, but merely those that seem most reasonable.

Haley believed concessions by the Bible's adversaries to be weighty arguments in the Bible's favor. For this reason, he made use of those concessions from time to time throughout the text as the opportunity presented itself.

As to works originally published in foreign languages, whenever approved English versions existed, Halley used them instead of attempting his own translation.

Though he could not predict the efficacy of his book and whether his audience would be persuaded, Haley maintained his conviction "that every difficulty and discrepancy in the Scriptures is, and will yet be seen to be, capable of a fair and reasonable solution."

Whatever reception his book received and however fallible it was proven to be, Halley rested on his trust in the Bible's infallibility, saying, "Let it be remembered that the Bible is neither dependent upon nor affected by the success or failure of my book. Whatever may become of the latter, whatever may be the verdict passed upon it by an intelligent public, the Bible will stand. In ages yet to be, when its present assailants and defenders are moldering in the dust, and when their very names are forgotten, the sacred volume will be, as it has been during the centuries past, the guide and solace of unnumbered millions of our race.

Origin of the Discrepancies

"God reveals himself in his word, as he does in his works. In both we see a self-revealing, self-concealing God, who makes himself known only to those who earnestly seek him. In both we find stimulants to faith and occasions for unbelief. In both we find contradictions, whose higher harmony is hidden, except from him who gives up his whole mind in reverence. In both, in a word, it is a law of revelation that the heart of man should be tested in receiving it, and that in the spiritual life, as well as in the bodily, man must eat his bread in the sweat of his brow."

In these significant words of the sainted Neander 1 are brought to view the existence and the remedy of certain difficulties encountered by the student of scripture.

It is the object of the present volume to follow out the line of thought indicated by the learned German divine-—-to survey somewhat in detail the discrepancies of scripture, and to suggest, in the several cases, fair and reasonable solutions.

That no candid and intelligent student of the Bible will deny that it contains numerous "discrepancies," that its statements, taken prima facie, not 

1 Life of Christ

infrequently conflict with or contradict one another, may safely be presumed. This fact has been more or less recognized by Christian scholars in all ages.

Of the early writers, Origen 2 declares that if any one should carefully examine the Gospels in respect to their historic disagreement, he would grow dizzy-headed, and, attaching himself to one of them, he would desist from the attempt to establish all as true, or else he would regard the four as true, yet not in their external forms.


Chrysostom 3 regards the discrepancies as really valuable as proofs of independence on the part of the sacred writers.

Augustine 4 often recurs, in his writings, to the discrepancies, and handles many cases with great skill and felicity.

Some twenty-five years since, that eminent biblical critic, Moses Stuart 5 whose candor was commensurate with his erudition, acknowledged that "in our present copies of the scriptures there are some discrepancies between different portions of them, which no learning nor ingenuity can reconcile."6

To much the same effect, Archbishop Whately 7 observes: "That the apparent contradictions of scripture are numerous—-that the instruction conveyed by them, if they be indeed designed for such a purpose, is furnished in abundance—-is too notorious to need being much insisted on."

Similarly says Dr. Charles Hodge: 8 "It would require not a volume, but volumes, to discuss all the cases of alleged discrepancies."

Such being the concessions made by Christian scholars, it can occasion no surprise to find sceptical authors expatiating upon the "glaring inconsistencies," "self-contradictions," and "manifest discrepancies" of the Bible, and incessantly urging these as so many proofs of its untrustworthiness and of its merely human origin. The pages of the German rationalists, and of their English and American disciples and copyists, abound with arguments of this character.

Of the importance of our theme, little need be said. Clearly it bears a close and vital relation to the doctrine of inspiration. God, who is wisdom and truth, can neither lie nor contradict himself. Hence, should it be discovered

2 Comm. in Evangelium Joannis, Vol. i. p. 279, Lommatzsch's edition.
3 Warington on Inspiration, p. 36.
4 See Rabus in appended Bibliography.
5 Crit. Hist, and Defence of O. T. Canon, p. 193. Revised ed. p. 179.
6 When we consider the marked progress of sacred philology and allied sciences during the last quarter of a century, we cannot doubt that the Professor would, were he now living, essentially modify this opinion.
7 On Difficulties in Writings of St. Paul; Essay 7, Sect. 4.
8 Theology, Vol. L, p. 169.

that falsehoods or actual contradictions exist in the Bible, our conclusion must be, that, at any rate, these things do not come from God; that so far the Bible is not divinely inspired. We see, therefore, the need of a patient and impartial examination of alleged falsehoods and contradictions, in order that our theory of inspiration maybe made to conform to the facts of the case.

Yet we must guard against the conclusion that, since we cannot solve certain difficulties, they are therefore insoluble. This inference—to which minds of a certain temper are peculiarly liable-—-savors so strongly of egotism and dogmatism as to be utterly repugnant to the spirit of true scholarship.

As in all other departments of sacred criticism, so in the treatment of the discrepancies, there is a demand for reverent, yet unflinching thoroughness and fidelity.

An important preliminary question relates to the Origin of the Discrepancies. To what causes are they to be referred? From what sources do they arise?

1. Difference of Dates of Passages

Many of the so-called discrepancies are obviously attributable to a difference in the dates of the discordant passages. Nothing is more common than that a description or statement, true and pertinent at one time, should at a later period, and in a different state of affairs, be found irrelevant or inaccurate. Change of circumstances necessitates a change of phraseology. Numerous illustrations of this principle will be found in the following pages.

A certain infidel, bent upon making the Bible contradict itself, contrasts the two passages: "God saw everything that he had made, and, behold, it was very good"; and "It repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart." 9 Taking these texts out of their connection, and, with characteristic fairness, making no mention of the interval of time which divided them, he thus seeks to make it appear that the Bible represents God as, at the same time, satisfied and dissatisfied with his works. Had the unscrupulous pamphleteer told his readers that the fall of man and a period of some fifteen hundred years intervened between the two epochs respectively referred to in these texts, his "discrepancy" would have become too transparent to serve his purpose.

9  Genesis 1:31 and 6:6.

Obviously, after man had fallen, God could no longer be "satisfied" with him, unless a corresponding change had taken place in himself. We thus see that differences of date and circumstances may perfectly explain apparent discrepancies, and remove every vestige of contradiction.

May not these differences also furnish a hint toward the solution of certain moral difficulties in the scriptures? We find some of the patriarchs represented as good men, yet occasionally practicing deceit, polygamy, and other sins which are discountenanced in the later books of the Bible. Is not the rule of human conduct, to some extent, a relative one, graduated according to man's knowledge, circumstances, and ability? Did not He who revealed himself "in many portions and in divers manners"10 make the revelation of human duty in much the same way—-not as with the lightning's blinding flash, but like the morning upon the mountains, with a slow and gradual illumination?11

In the comparatively unenlightened times in which many of the Old Testament saints lived, many faults and errors of theirs may have been mercifully and wisely passed by. Those "times of ignorance" God "winked at"12—-"over-looked." Acts committed in that twilight of the world, in the childhood of the race, must be looked at in the light of that period. Nothing could be more unjust or unreasonable than to try the patriarchs by the ethical standard of a later age.

Dr. Thomas Arnold 13 deems that the truest and most faithful representation of the lives of the patriarchs which leads us to think of "a state of society very little advanced in its knowledge of the duties of man to man, and even, in some respects, of the duties of man to God—a state of society in which slavery, polygamy, and private revenge were held to be perfectly lawful, and which was accustomed to make a very wide distinction between fake speaking and false swearing." He deprecates the fear that we are "lowering the early scripture history, if we speak of the actors in it as men possessing far less than a Christian's knowledge of right and wrong." Professor Stuart,14 likewise, repudiates the notion of the absolute perfection of the earlier dispensation, and adds: "It is only a relative perfection that the Old Testament can claim; and this is comprised in the fact that it answered the end for which it was given. It was given to the world, or to the Jewish nation, in its minority." The Professor's conclusion is, that in the early ages, "with the

10 Hebrews 1:1, so Alford.
11 See Bernard, Progress of Doct. in New Testament, passim.
12 "In this word lie treasures of mercy for those who lived in the times of ignorance."—Alford on Acts 17:30.
13 Miscellaneous Works, pp. 149, ISO (New York edition).
14 History of Old Testament Canon, p. 415. Revised ed. pp. 387, 388.

exception of such sins as were highly dishonorable to God and injurious to the welfare of men, the rules of duty were not in all cases strictly drawn."15

Now, since our virtue must be judged of in relation to the amount of knowledge we possess, it is easy to see how men are styled "good" who live according to the light they have, even though that light may be comparatively feeble. Therefore, previous to pronouncing upon the moral character of a man or an act, we must take into consideration the date of the act, or the time when the man lived, that we may judge the man or the act by the proper standard. This simple principle will remove many otherwise formidable difficulties.16

2. Differences of Authorship

Were it not for the perversity and disingenuousness exhibited by certain writers in dealing with this topic, it would be superfluous to assign differences of authorship as a fruitful source of discrepancies. We find recorded in the Bible the words of God and of good men, as well as some of the sayings of Satan and of wicked men. Now, a collision between these two classes of utterances will not seem strange to him who is cognizant of the antagonism of good and evil. For example, we read, "Thou shalt surely die;" and "Ye shall not surely die."17 When we call to mind that the former are the words of God, the latter those of Satan, we are at no loss to account for the incongruity.

The question of the respective authorship of conflicting texts is an important one: "Whose are these sayings?" "Are they recorded as inspired language, or is one or more of them inserted as a mere matter of history?" "Does the sacred writer endorse, or merely narrate, these statements?" The answer to these simple questions will often be the only solution which the supposed discrepancy needs.

With regard to utterances clearly referable to inspired sources, yet which apparently disagree, several things are to be noticed:

(1) The same idea, in substance, may be couched in several different forms of phraseology. Thus we may vary the Mosaic prohibition of murder: "Thou shalt not kill"; "Do not kill"; "Thou shalt do no murder." Any one of these statements is sufficiently exact. No one of them would be

15 See further, under Ethical Discrepancies, "Enemies cursed."
16 "Distinguite tempora," says Augustine, "et concordabunt scripturae"; "Distinguish as to times, and the scriptures will harmonize."
17 Genesis 2:17 and 3:4.

regarded by any sensible person as a mis-statement of the precept. They all convey substantially the same idea.

(2) Inspiration does not destroy the individuality of the writers. It deals primarily with ideas, rather than with words. It suggests ideas to the mind of the writer, allowing him, generally, to clothe them in his own language. In this way his individuality is preserved, and his mental peculiarities and habits of thought make themselves felt in his writings. On this principle we account for the marked difference of style among the sacred writers, as well as for their occasional divergences in setting forth the same idea or in relating the same circumstance.18

(3) Inspiration need not always tread in its own track, or follow the same routine of words. A writer may, under the guidance of the Holy Spirit, take the language of a former inspired author, and modify it to suit his own purpose. Thus the New Testament writers often quote those of the Old. They grasp the sense, the ground-thought, of their predecessors, and then mold that thought into such forms as shall best meet the needs of the later age for which they write. This simple principle relieves the apparent discrepancies between the phraseology of the Old Testament and the citations in the New.


3. Differences of Standpoint or of Object

Other seeming disagreements are occasioned by differences of standpoint or of object on the part of the respective authors. Truth is many-sided, flinging back from each of its countless facets a ray of different hue. As Whately says, "Single texts of scripture maybe so interpreted, if not compared together, and explained by each other, as to contradict one another, and to be each one of them at variance with the truth. The scriptures, if so studied, will no less mislead you than if they were actually false; for half the truth will very often amount to absolute falsehood."19

Often, in looking from different positions, or at different objects, we follow lines of thought, or employ language, which seems inconsistent with something elsewhere propounded by us; yet there may be no real inconsistency in the case. Thus we say, in the same breath, "Man is mortal," and "Man is immortal."

18 See several striking cases under "Scriptures—-Quotations."
19 Future State, Lect. VI., p. 120 (Phila. edition).

Both statements are true, each from its own point of view; they do not collide in the least. In respect to his material, visible, tangible organism, he is mortal; but with reference to the deathless, intelligent spirit within, he is immortal. So one may say: "The people of this country are rulers," and, "The American people are ruled." In the sense intended, both assertions may be perfectly correct.

In the "Christian Paradoxes," published in Basil Montagu's edition of Lord Bacon's Works, we find striking contradictions. Thus, concerning the pious man:

"He is one that fears always, yet is as bold as a lion.
"He loseth his life, and gains by it; and whilst he loseth it, he saveth it.
"He is a peacemaker, yet is a continual fighter, and is an irreconcilable enemy.
"He is often in prison, yet always at liberty; a freeman, though a servant.
"He loves not honor amongst men, yet highly prizeth a good name."

In these cases no uncommon acuteness is requisite to see that there is no contradiction; since the conflicting sayings lie in different planes of thought, or contemplate different ends.

The principle that every truth presents different aspects, and bears different relations, is one of great importance. Sometimes these aspects or relations may seem inconsistent or incompatible with each other; yet, if we trace back the divergent rays to their source, we shall find that they meet in a common center.

The principle just enunciated serves to reconcile the apparent disagreement between Paul and James respecting "faith" and "works," and to evince, as will be seen elsewhere, the profound, underlying harmony between them. Looking from different points of view, they present different, yet not inconsistent, aspects of the same great truth.

It is scarcely needful to add, that in studying the sacred writings, we should carefully look for and keep in mind the particular point of view and the object of each of the authors. Unless we do this, we risk a total misapprehension of them. We are apt, forgetting the long ages which have intervened, to judge these writers by the standards of our own time. Says Miiller: "The great majority of readers transfer without hesitation the ideas which they connect with words as used in the nineteenth century to the mind of Moses or his contemporaries, forgetting altogether the distance which divides their language and their thoughts from the thoughts and language of the wandering tribes of Israel."20

Chips from a German Workshop, i. 133 (Am. edition).

This is a timely caution against unconsciously confounding an ancient author's standpoint with our own. We may remark, further, that the historian's standpoint is theoretically a neutral one. So long as he keeps to the mere recital of facts, he does not make himself responsible in any degree for the conduct described by him. When he drops the role of the historian, and assumes that of the philosopher and moralist, when he begins to deal out praise or censure, he may be held amenable to the tribunal of ethics for the rectitude and impartiality of his opinions and decisions.

In a word, the Bible writers do not, by simply narrating the misconduct of other persons, make themselves in the slightest degree responsible for that misconduct. Yet many persons, who would not think of holding Macaulay accountable for the crimes recorded in his history, cannot, when they come to read the sacred record, see the difference between a mere historian and a partisan. There is an appreciable distinction between narrating and endorsing an act.

4. Different Methods of Arrangement

Many other apparent discrepancies, of a historical character, are occasioned by the adoption, by the several authors, of different principles and methods of arrangement. One writer follows the strict chronological order; another disposes his materials according to the principle of association of ideas. One writes history-minutely and consecutively; another omits, condenses, or expands to suit his purpose. From the pen of one writer we receive an orderly, well-constructed biography; another gives us merely a series of anecdotes, grouped so as to illustrate some trait, sentiment, or habit of the person described. Thus, in Xenophon's Memorabilia, we do not find a proper biography of Socrates, but we see various points in his life and character set forth by anecdotes respecting him and by reports of his discussions. These are "thrown together in the manner best suited to illustrate the different topics, without regard to the order of time in which the transactions or conversations actually took place, and without any endeavor to preserve the appearance of continuity of narrative." So our first Gospel, in the words of Professor Stowe, 21 "does not follow any chronological series of events or instructions, but groups together things of the same kind, and shows by a series of living pictures what Christ was in all the various circumstances through

21 Origin and History of Books of Bible, pp. 153-154.

which he passed." A similar and intentional disregard of chronological order and sequence is seen, to a greater or less degree, in the three remaining Gospels, and in other historical portions of the Bible.

The methods of the several authors being thus different, it cannot but be that their narratives, when compared, will present appearances of dislocation, deficiency, redundancy, anachronism, or even antagonism—one or all of these. Now, if we put these authors upon a Procrustean bed, and clip or stretch them to suit our notions; if we require them to narrate precisely the same events, in precisely the same order, and with precisely the same fullness or brevity, we do them great violence and injustice. We should let each follow his own method of arrangement, and tell his story in his own way. A different grouping of events does not necessarily bring one author into collision with another, unless it can be shown that both writers intended to follow the order of time. Nor is an author's omission to mention an event equivalent to a denial of that event. It should also be remembered that a writer may employ customary phraseology, involving a historical inaccuracy, yet not be chargeable with falsehood, inasmuch as he does not intend to teach anything in reference to the matter. For example, a historian might incidentally speak of the "Battle of Bunker Hill," while he knows perfectly well that the battle was fought on Breed's Hill. It is an author's privilege to accommodate himself in this manner, to prevalent opinions and customary forms of speech, provided he does not thereby introduce any material error, which shall vitiate his leading design.

5. Different Methods of Computation

Other incongruities arise from the use of different modes of computation, particularly of reckoning time. Phenomena of this description are not confined to the scriptures, or to the domain of theology. They are found in scientific and other secular literature. Thus, one would think the number of the bones which compose the human skeleton a very simple and easily-settled question; yet the most eminent anatomists disagree on this point. Gray mentions 204 bones; Wilson, 246; Dunglison, 240; others, 208. There is, however, no real discrepancy in the case, since these authors reckon differently.
A historical illustration is also in point. The family record, in an old Bible which belonged to Washington's mother, asserts that he was born "y 11th day of February, 173 and 1/2." On the other hand, a recent biography 22 of Washington gives the date as "the 22d of February, 1732, New Style." To those who understand

22 Everett's Life of Washington, pp. 19-20.

the difference between "Old Style" and "New Style," this discrepancy of eleven days will furnish no difficulty. When one historian reckons from one epoch, and another from a different one, there will of necessity be an apparent, if not a real, disagreement.

Many ancient and several modern nations have two kinds of year in use, the civil and the sacred. The Jews employed both reckonings. "The sacred reckoning was that instituted at the Exodus, according to which the first month was Abib; by the civil reckoning the first month was the Seventh. The interval between the two commencements was thus exactly half a year." 23

"The ancient Egyptians, Chaldeans, Persians, Syrians, Phoenicians, and Carthaginians each began the year at the autumnal equinox, about September 22. The Jews also began their civil year at that time; but in their ecclesiastical reckoning the year dated from the vernal equinox, about March 22."

"Among the Latin Christian nations there were seven different dates for the commencement of the year." "In the era of Constantinople, which was in use in the Byzantine empire, and in Russia till the time of Peter the Great, the civil year began with September 1, and the ecclesiastical sometimes with March 21, and sometimes with April l." 24  Even among us, the academic and the fiscal do not begin and end with the civil year.

It follows, therefore, that when two ancient writers fail to agree as to the month and day of a given event, we must inquire whether or not they employ the same chronological reckoning. If not, their disagreement furnishes no proof that either is wrong. Each, according to his own method of computation, may be perfectly correct. When, in the Fahrenheit thermometer, the mercury stands at 212 degrees, in the Reaumur at 80, and in the Centigrade at 100 degrees, the inference is not valid that any one of the three instruments is inaccurate. The different methods of graduating the scale account for the different indications.

It was one peculiarity of the Jewish reckoning that fractional years were counted for whole ones. Lightfoot 25 says that, according to the rabbis, "the very first day of a year may stand in computation for that year." Aben Ezra, on Leviticus 12:3, says that, "if an infant were born in the last hour of the day, such hour was counted for one whole day." A similar mode of reckoning prevails in the East at the present time. "Thus, the year ending on a certain day, any part of the foregoing year is reckoned a whole year. A child born in the last week of our December would be reckoned a year old on the first day of January, because

23 R. S. Poole, in Smith's Bib. Diet., Art. "Year."
24 Appleton's Cyclopaedia; Article "Calendar."
25 Harmony of New Testament, Section 9.

born in the old year." Menasseh ben Israel 26 says that, "in respect of the festivals, solemnities, and computations of the reigns of kings, Nisan [March] is the beginning of the year; but in regard to the creation and secular matters, it is Tisri (September)."

That eminent scholar and Egyptologist, Dr. J. P. Thompson, 27 well observes that the study of chronology is "particularly obscure and difficult when we have to do with Oriental modes of computation, which are essentially different from ours. Before the time of Abraham, the narrative given in the book of Genesis may be a condensed epitome of foregoing history—not a consecutive line of historical events, year by year and generation by generation, but a condensed epitome of what had occurred in the world from the creation to that time; for if you will scrutinize it carefully, you will see that in some instances the names of individuals are put for tribes, dynasties, and nations, and that it is no part of the object of the historian to give the consecutive course of affairs in the world at large." He proceeds to express the conviction that there is yet to come to us, from Arabian and other Oriental sources, a mode of interpreting chronology according to these lists of names, which he does not believe we have yet got hold of; hence he is not troubled by any seeming discrepancies. If, then, in dealing with biblical numbers, we encounter methods of computation which differ essentially from our own, 28 this is a fact which no student nor interpreter of scripture can afford to overlook.

26 Conciliator, L, 126-129.
27 Man in Genesis and in Geology, pp. 104-105.
28 The Hebrew and Arabic allow a peculiar latitude in the expression of numbers. According to Nordheimer (Hebrew Grammar, i. 265), and Wright (Arabic Grammar, p. 211), both these languages permit one to write first the units, then the tens, hundreds and thousands, in their order; or he may reverse the method, writing the highest denomination first, and ending with the lowest.
Revelation Dr. C. S. Robinson, in the Christian Weekly, thus overstates and misapplies the first usage: "This is just the reverse of our habit. We put thousands before hundreds, and hundreds before units. So if a literal rendering of one of those vast numbers be made into English, it will appear positively preposterous.
"In the first book of Samuel, we are told (in our version), that for the impiety of looking into the ark, the Lord smote, in the little town of Bethshemesh, 'of the people fifty thousand and threescore and ten men' (1 Samuel 6:19). Now, one cannot help thinking that there was no town in all those borders so large as this assumes. Fifty thousand men, besides women and children, would populate one of our larger modern cities.
"The difficulty disappears when you recall the idiom I have mentioned. The verse reads, 'seventy, fifties, and a thousand'-—that is, not seventy and fifty thousand, as it is translated, but seventy, two fifties, and one thousand, or one thousand one hundred and seventy men, in all."
Dr. R.'s explanation is inapposite. There is quite as much reason for reading "seventies" as "fifties," since both the original words are, as they ought to be, in the plural number. (See Gesenius, Hebrews Gram., Sect. 97, Par. 3). Besides, "fifties" may as well denote ten fifties as two fifties.

It is clear that the Hebrews often employed "round numbers," or, omitting fractions, made use of the nearest whole number. Thus, the ages of the patriarchs, in Genesis 5, are given in this manner, unless we adopt the improbable supposition that each of them died upon some anniversary of his birth.

The foregoing considerations evince the folly of hasty decisions in regard to biblical chronology. When the sacred writers disagree as to numbers and dates, unless there is evidence that they intended to reckon from the same point and by the same method, the verdict must be: "Discrepancy not proven."


6. Peculiarities of Oriental Idiom

The peculiarities of the Oriental idiom are another prolific source of discrepancies. The people of the East are fervid and impassioned in their modes of thought and expression. They think and speak in poetry 29. Bold metaphors and startling hyperboles abound in their writings and conversation. "The shepherd," says Eichhorn, 30 "only speaks in the soul of the shepherd, and the primitive Oriental only speaks in the soul of another Oriental. Without an intimate acquaintance with the customs of pastoral life, without an accurate knowledge of the East and its manners, without a close intimacy with the manner of thinking and speaking in the uncivilized world, . . . you easily become a traitor to the book, when you would be its deliverer and interpreter."

Professor Stuart:31 "I do not, and would not, summon them [the books of scripture] before the tribunal of Occidental criticism. Asia is one world; Europe and America, another. Let an Asiatic be tried before his own tribunal. To pass just sentence upon him, we must enter into his feelings, views, methods of reasoning and thinking, and place ourselves in the midst of the circumstances which surrounded him."

Lowth, 32 on Metaphors: "The Orientals are attached to this style of composition; and many flights which our ears—too fastidious, perhaps, in these

29 A learned writer observes of Arabian literature: "A poetic spirit pervades all their works. Even treatises in the abstract sciences, geographical and medical works, have a poetic cast.
All their literary productions, from the most impassioned ode to the firman of the Grand Seigneur, belong to the province of poetry."
Michaelis quotes an Arabic poet who expresses the fact that swords were drawn with which to cut the throats of enemies, thus: "The daughters of the sheath leaped forth from their chambers, thirsting to drink in the jugular vein of their enemies."—See Bib. Repository, Oct. 1836, pp. 489, 442.
30 See DeWette, Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 31-32.
31 History of Old Testament Canon, p. 187. Revised ed. p. 174.
32 Lectures on Hebrew Poetry, pp. 51, 47 (Stowe's edition).

respects-—will scarcely bear, must be allowed to the general freedom and boldness of these writers."

Again, he speaks of the difficulties which arise in reading authors "where everything is depicted and illustrated with the greatest variety and abundance of imagery; they must be still more numerous in such of the poets as are foreign and ancient—in the Orientals above all foreigners; they being the farthest removed from our customs and manners, and, of all the Orientals, more especially in the Hebrews."

Dr. Samuel Davidson: 33 "He who does not remember the wide difference between the Oriental and Occidental mind must necessarily fall into error. The luxuriant imagination and glowing ardor of the former express themselves in hyperbolical and extravagant diction; whereas the subdued character and coolness of the latter are averse to sensuous luxuriance."

Again: "The figures are bold and daring. Passion and feeling predominate. In the Psalms preeminently, we see the theology of the feelings, rather than of the intellect. Logic is out of place there. Dogmas cannot be established on such a basis, nor was it ever meant to be so."

Professor Park: 34 "More or less clandestinely, we are wont to interpret an ancient and an Oriental poet, as we would interpret a modern and Occidental essayist. The eastern minstrel employs intense words for saying what the western logician would say in tame language. The fervid Oriental would turn from our modifying phrases in sickness of heart. We shudder at the lofty flights which captivate him. But he and we mean to express the same idea. The Occidental philosopher has a definite thought when he affirms that God exercises benevolence toward good men. Isaiah has essentially the same thought when he cries out: As the bridegroom rejoiceth over the bride, so shall thy God rejoice over thee.'"

Such being the genius and idiom of the Orientals, it cannot be deemed strange that their metaphors and hyperboles overlap and collide with one another; that we find David, 35 for example, at one time calling God a rock, and elsewhere speaking of his wings and feathers. Such bold and free imagery, when properly interpreted, develops a felicitous meaning; but when expounded according to literalistic, matter-of-fact methods, it yields discrepancies in abundance. To the interpreter of scripture, no two qualifications are more indispensable than common sense and honesty.

33 Introduction to Old Testament, ii. 409, 310.
34 Bib. Sacra, xix 170-171.
35 Psalm 42:9, and 91:4.

7. Plurality of Names or Synonyms

Other dissonances in scripture are obviously attributable to the Eastern custom of applying plurality of names to the same person or object. In matters of everyday life, this custom is widely prevalent. Thus, in the Arabic, 36 there are 1000 different words or names for "sword," 500 for "lion," 200 for "serpent," 400 for "misfortune," 80 for "honey."

The Hebrew language has as many as fifty words denoting a body of water of some kind. 37 There are at least eighteen Hebrew words used to express different kinds of prickly shrubs or weeds which occur in the Hebrew scriptures. 38 Gesenius gives some eight different Hebrew terms for "counsel," twelve for "darkness," thirty-two for "destruction," ten for "law," and twenty-three for "wealth." 39

The usage in respect to proper names is quite similar. Thus we find Jacob and Israel, Edom and Esau, Gideon and Jerubbaal, Hoshea or Oshea and Jehoshua or Joshua. One of the apostles bore the following appellations: Simon, Simeon, Peter, Cephas, Simon Peter, Simon Barjona, and Simon son of Jonas. So we find Joseph, Barsabas, and Justus designating the same individual.

Not infrequently the names of persons and places were changed on account of some important event. The custom prevails to some extent in modern times. The Persian king, Shah Solyman, began to reign in 1667, under the name Suf-fee. During the first years of his reign, misfortune attended him. He came to the conclusion that his name was an unlucky one, and must be laid aside, in order to avert further calamities. "He accordingly assumed, with great solemnity, the name of Solyman. He was crowned anew under that name, and all the seals and coins which bore the name of Suffee were broken, as if one king had died, and another succeeded." 40 Chardin, an eye-witness, gives an account of the coronation. The custom of changing the name of the pope at the time of his election is not unlike—Aeneas Sylvius becoming Pius II.

Often, in the Bible, the name of the head of a tribe or nation is put for his posterity. Thus, in a multitude of cases, "Israel" means the Israelite nation; "Ephraim" and "Moab" signify the descendants of those men respectively. Keeping in mind the great latitude allowed by the Orientals in the use of names, we see the ready solution of many difficulties in the biblical record.

36 Bleek, Introd. to Old Testament, i. 43. Also, Biblical Repository for October, 1836, pp.
37 Taylor's Spirit of Hebrew Poetry, p. 91 (Gowans' edition).
38 Tristram's Natural History of the Bible, p. 423 (London edition).
39 Potter's English-Hebrew Lexicon, sub vocibus.
40 Bush, Notes on Genesis 17:5.

8. Diverse Meanings of Same Word

Not a few verbal contradictions arise from the use of the same word with different, sometimes opposite, significations. As Fuerst says, "Analogy in the Semitic dialects admits of directly opposite meanings in a word as possible." According to this lexicographer and Gesenius, the Hebrew word "barak" is used in the opposite senses of to bless and to curse. So "yarash" means both to possess and to dispossess; nakar," to know and not to know; "saqal," to pelt with stones and to free from stones; "shabar," to buy grain and to sell grain. So the Latin word "sacer" means both holy and accursed.

This infelicity of human speech is not, indeed, peculiar to the East. In our version of the scriptures, 41 and in the early English literature, 42 the word "let" is employed with the contradictor 'meanings, to permit and to hinder. In common parlance, a boy "stones" a fruit tree, and the cook "stones" certain kinds of fruit. "Cleave" affords another example of opposite significations combined in the same word. 43

When, therefore, we read in the Bible that certain persons "feared the Lord," yet "feared not the Lord"; that God "repents," yet does not repent; that he "tempted" Abraham, yet tempts no man, we find a ready solution of these apparent contradictions.

Frequently discrepancies appear in our version, when none exist in the original. This is due to the fact that the same English word has been employed by the translators to represent several original terms. Thus, in Luke 13:24 and 2 Timothy 2:24, two distinct Greek words are in our version rendered "strive." The resulting incongruity disappears when we consider that the term in Luke should have been rendered "agonize." Of course, all such discrepancies are to be attributed to the translators, and not to the book itself.

It is well to remember, also, that in King James's version words are frequently employed in an unusual or obsolete sense. Thus we find "prevent" 44 signifying to anticipate or precede; "thought" 45 implying anxiety. Often a knowledge of the ambiguity of their pivotal words enables us to reconcile two conflicting texts with the greatest ease.

41 Isaiah. 43:13; Romans 1:13; 2 Thessalonians 2:7.
42 Two Gent, of Verona, iii. 1; Hamlet, i. 4; Romeo and Juliet, ii.2.
43 See Roget's Thesaurus of English Words, Introd. p. 23.
44 Psalm 119:147-148; 1 Thessalonians 4:15.
45 Matthew 6:25.

9. Errors in the Manuscripts

A very large number of discrepancies take their rise from errors in the manuscripts; these errors being occasioned by the similarity of the alphabetical characters to one another, and by the consequent blunders of transcribers. The reader need not be reminded that previous to the invention of printing, in the fifteenth century, books were produced and multiplied by the slow, laborious method of copying with the pen. In a process so mechanical, mistakes would inevitably occur. The most carefully printed book is not entirely free from typographical errors; the most carefully written manuscript will exhibit defects of some kind. "God might" says an eminent critic, 46 "have so guided the hand or fixed the devout attention of copyists, during the long space of fourteen hundred years before the invention of printing, and of compositors and printers of the Bible for the last four centuries, that no jot or tittle should have been changed of all that was written therein. Such a course of providential arrangement we must confess to be quite possible; but it could have been brought about and maintained by nothing short of a continuous, unceasing miracle-—-by making fallible men (nay, many such in every generation) for one purpose absolutely infallible." To the unavoidable errors of copyists is, beyond question, to be attributed a large portion of those minute discrepancies, in both the Old and New Testaments, which we commonly term "various readings." The liability to mistakes in chirography was, moreover, indefinitely augmented by the very close resemblance of certain Hebrew letters to one another. Kalisch 47 gives twelve examples in point.

"Several letters," says Professor Stuart, 48 "bear a great resemblance to each other." As illustrations, he mentions: Beth 3 and Kaph D; Daleth 7 and Resh 1; Daleth 7 and final Kaph "; Vav 1 and Yod '; Vav 1 and Nun final 1; Heth 17 and He H; Heth n and Tav n. He might have added, Pe D and Kaph D. The reader will observe that, if the left hand perpendicular line of He be accidentally omitted or blurred, we have Duluth left, thus, n, 7; so Tav and Resh, thus n, i; also Pe and Kaph, 3, D. "At one time," says Herbert Marsh, 49 "the whole difference consists in the acuteness or obtuseness of an angle; at other times, either on the length or the straightness of a line; distinctions so minute that even when the letters are perfect, mistakes will sometimes happen, and still more frequently when they are inaccurately formed, or are partially effaced. In fact, this is one of the most fruitful sources of error in the Hebrew manuscripts."

46 Scrivener, Criticism of New Testament, p. 8.
47 Hebrew Grammar, i. 3.
48 Hebrew Grammar, Sec. 17 (ed. of 1821).
49 Lectures on Criticism and Interpretation, p. 186.


Certain Greek letters, also, look very much alike; for example, Nu v and Upsilon v, with others.

Everyone is aware how easily the English letters b and d are confounded, also p and q; how often we see N placed thus, A In print we see the figures 3 and 8, 6 and 9, mistaken for each other. How frequently we find "recieve" for "receive," "cheif' for "chief," "thier" for "their," and the like. Now, if such errors occur, in the most carefully corrected print, what are we to look for in manuscript, and particularly when the letters of which it is composed are so nearly alike? Moreover, as Theodore Parker 50 says, "it is to be remembered that formerly the Hebrew letters resembled one another more closely than at present."


Under such circumstances as the foregoing, that occasional mistakes should have been made in copying by hand the Hebrew of the Old Testament and the Greek of the New so many times in the course of fourteen centuries is a thing to which no reasonable man can occasion surprise.

In fact, nothing but the most astounding miracle 51 could have prevented such mistakes.

We are now ready to add that, in the ancient Hebrew, letters were, in all probability, used for numerals. That is, letters were employed by the original writers to represent numbers, which were expanded and written out in full by later copiers. So, with us, one author might write "CXI"; another, "one hundred and eleven."

"The Rabbinical writers," says Nordheimer, 52 "employ the letters of the alphabet, after the manner of the ancient Greeks, for the purpose of numerical notation." The same is true of more ancient writers, including those of the Masora. That the original writers did this, though not absolutely demonstrated, is generally conceded by scholars.

Rawlinson 53 observes: "Nothing in ancient MSS is so liable to corruption from the mistakes of copyists as the numbers; the original mode of writing them appears in all countries of which we have any knowledge to have been by signs, not very different from one another; the absence of any context determining in favor of one number rather than another, where the copy is blotted or faded,

50 De Wette's Introd. to Old Testament, i. 311.
51 In the words of Dr. Bentley, "That in millions of copies transcribed in so many ages and nations, all the notaries and writers, who made it their trade and livelihood should be infallible and impeccable; that their pens should spontaneously write true, or be supernaturally guided, though the scribes were nodding or dreaming; would not this exceed all the miracles of both Old and New Testament?" Yet the same scholarly critic elsewhere assures us that "the New Testament has suffered less injury by the hand of time than any profane author."— Remarks upon a late Discourse, Part i. Sec. 32.
52 Hebrew Grammar, Vol. i. pp. 265-266, note.
53 On Historical Difficulties of Old and New Testament, p. 9.

increases the chance of error, and thus it happens that in almost all ancient works the numbers are found to be deserving of very little reliance."

Mr. Warington: 54 "There is little doubt but that numbers were originally represented in Hebrew, not as now by the names of the numbers in full, but simply by the letters of the alphabet taken in order, at the following numerical value: 1,2, 3,4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9,10,20, 30,40, 5O, 60, 70, 80, 90,100,200, 300,400; the five terminal letters supplying the numbers from 500 to 900, and the thousands being obtained by appending certain marks or points to the units."

Mr. Phillott: 55 "Like most Oriental nations, it is probable that the Hebrews in their written calculations made use of the letters of the alphabet. That they did so in post-Babylonian times we have conclusive evidence in the Maccabaean coins; and it is highly probable that this was the case also in earlier times."

Keil: 56 "An interchange of similar letters, on the assumption that letters were used as numerals, also explains many differences in numbers, and many statements of excessive and incredible numbers." Elsewhere, he calls attention to certain "corruptions which have arisen from the blunders of copyists in transcription, and by the resolution of the numerical statements, the numbers having been denoted by letters of the alphabet."

De Wette, 57 speaking of the mistakes of copyists: "They confounded similar letters. Hence, on the supposition that numeral characters were used, we are to explain the difference in numbers." He adduces several pertinent instances. "In this manner," continues his translator, Theodore Parker, "many other mistakes in numbers seem to have arisen."

Dr. Kennicott: 58 "That the Jewish transcribers did frequently express the Bible numbers in the original by single letters is well known to the learned."

This author also cites the learned Scaliger, and an ancient Hebrew Grammar, printed with the Complutensian Bible in 1515, to the same effect.

Dr. Samuel Davidson: 59 "Wherever numerous proper names occur, there is greater liability to err. So with regard to numbers; for letters alike in shape being used as numerals, were easily interchanged."

Again, "Letters having been used as numerals in ancient times, one letter was often mistaken for another by transcribers, and hence many corruptions got into the text."

54 On Inspiration, pp. 204-205.
55 Smith's Bib. Diet., "Number."
56 Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 297 and 85.
57 Introd. to Old Testament, i. 310.
58 On Printed Hebrew Text, i. 96.
59 Introd. to Old Testament, ii. 108, 112.

Winer: 60 "In expressing numbers, the Jews, in the post-exile period, as is evident from the inscriptions of the so-called Samaritan coins, employed the letters of the alphabet; and it is not improbable that the old Hebrews did the same, just as the Greeks, who derived their alphabet from the Phoenicians, expressed, from the earliest ages, numbers by letters."

"From the confounding of similarly-shaped letters when used for numerals, and from the subsequent writing out of the same in words can be explained satisfactorily in part the enormous sums in the Old Testament books, and the contradictions in their statements of numbers; yet caution is herein necessary."

Gesenius 61 expresses himself in very similar language, adduces examples illustrative of the above hypothesis, and pronounces it "certainly probable" (allerdings wahrscheinlich).

Glassius 62 also decides in favor of the hypothesis, and discusses the subject with no little skill and ability.

Isaac Taylor: 63 "The frequent use of contractions in writing was a very common source of errors; for many of these abbreviations were extremely complicated, obscure, and ambiguous, so that an unskillful copyist was very likely to mistake one word for another. No parts of ancient books have suffered so much from errors of inadvertency as those which relate to numbers; for as one numeral letter was easily mistaken for another, and as neither the sense of the passage, nor the rules of orthography nor of syntax, suggested the genuine reading, when once an error had arisen, it would most often be perpetuated, without remedy. It is, therefore, almost always unsafe to rest the stress of an argument upon any statement of numbers in ancient writers, unless some correlative computation confirms the reading of the text. Hence nothing can be more frivolous or unfair than to raise an objection against the veracity or accuracy of an historian, upon some apparent incompatability in his statement of numbers. Difficulties of this sort it is much better to attribute, at once, to a corruption of the text, than to discuss them with ill-spent assiduity."

On the authority of these scholars and critics, of creeds widely diverse, yet agreeing in this particular, we may, therefore, easily explain many of the contradictory and extravagant numbers 64 which we find in the historical books of the

60 Real-Worterbuch, Art. "Zahlen."
61 Geschichte der Heb. Sprache und Schrift, pp. 173-174.
62 Philologia Sacra, Tom. ii. pp. 188-195 (Dathe and Bauer's edition). See, also, J. M. Faber's "Literas olim pro vocibus in numerando a scriptoribus V.T. esse adhibitas."—Onoldi, 1775.
63 Transmission of Ancient Books, pp. 24-25.
64 Glassius observes, "Modo enim numeros invenimus, qui omnem modum excedunt, modo sieadem res in duobus libris narratur, in altero numerus adfertur, cui alter contradicit."—Phil.Sacra, De Caussis Corrupt. § 23.

Old Testament. Also certain discrepancies in the New Testament are explicable by the fact that, as is the case in the Codex Bezae, Greek letters bearing a close resemblance were used as numerals, 65 and hence were mistaken for one another. In our common Greek text, the number "six hundred three score and six" is indicated simply by three or sometimes four characters. 66

We thus see how mistakes in respect to numbers have originated.

It hardly need be added that errors as to names have arisen in the same way—from the similarity of certain letters. Thus we find Hadadezer and Hadarezer, 67 a Daleth  being mistaken for a Resh —and many like cases.

The key thus furnished, will unlock many difficulties during the progress of our work.

10. Imagination of Critic

Multitudes of alleged discrepancies are the product of the imagination of the critic, influenced to a greater or less degree by dogmatic prejudice.

Two classes of writers illustrate this remark. Of one class no names will be mentioned. The character, spirit, and motives of these writers render further notice of them inconsistent with the purpose of our work.

The second class—not to be spoken of in the same connection with the former—-comprises men possessing, in not a few cases, valid claims to scholarship, to critical acumen and to great respectability of character. Foremost in this class may be placed De Wette, as he appears in his earlier writings, and Dr. Samuel Davidson, as he is seen in some of his later works. It is painful to add that it seems impossible to acquit even these authors of great occasional unfairness in their handling of the scriptures. 68

65 In the Sinaitic MS., "numerals are represented by letters, with a straight line placed over them."—Scrivener's Criticism of New Testament, p. 78.
66 Either, as Tischendorf also writes, [Greek]or else [Greek]. Alford writes, in full, [Greek],—See Revelation 13:18.
67 2 Samuel 8:3; 1 Chronicles 18:3.
68 See, under "Ethical Discrepancies—-Enemies treated," an instance from Baur, relative to Romans 12:20; also, one from De Wette, under "Historical Discrepancies—Anak's Sons' Fate."
It may be added that De Wette, as is generally admitted, during his latter years approximated to orthodoxy. On the contrary, Dr. Davidson's tendencies may be gathered from a comparison of the discussion of the Discrepancies, in his "Sacred Hermeneutics," pp. 516-611, with his treatment of the same, in Home's Introduction (tenth edition), Vol. ii. pp. 503-553. See, also, Dr. Davidson's Introduction to the Old Testament, throughout.

Next—but by a long interval—may stand the names of Strauss, Colenso, and Theodore Parker. One can scarcely read the productions of these three, and some others of their school, without the conviction that the animus of these writers is often felicitously expressed by the old Latin motto, slightly modified: "I will either find a discrepancy, or I will make one"-—Aut inveniam discrepantiam, aut faciam.

Certain rationalistic authors have a convenient method for disposing of answers to the objections adduced by them. They begin at once to talk loftily of the "higher criticism," and to deride the answers and solutions as "gratuitous assumptions."
"Pertness and ignorance," says Bishop Home, 69 "may ask a question in three lines which it will cost learning and ingenuity thirty pages to answer; and when this is done, the same question shall be triumphantly asked again the next year, as if nothing had ever been written on the subject." Often, when fairly answered and refuted, these authors remind us of the homely old maxim:

"A man convinced against his will, Is of the same opinion still."

A favorite exegetical principle adopted by some of these critics appears to be that similar events are necessarily identical. Hence, when they read that Abraham twice equivocated concerning his wife; 70 that Isaac imitated his example; 71 that David was twice in peril in a certain wilderness, 72 and twice spared Saul's life in a cave, 73 they instantly assume that in each case these double narratives are irreconcilable accounts of one and the same event. The absurdity of such a canon of criticism is obvious from the fact that history is fall of events which more or less closely resemble one another. Take, as a well-known example, the case of the two Presidents Edwards, father and son. Both were named Jonathan Edwards, and were the grandsons of clergymen. "Both were pious in their youth, were distinguished scholars, and were tutors for equal periods in the colleges where they were respectively educated. Both were settled in the ministry as successors to their maternal grandfathers, were dismissed on account of their religious opinions, and were again settled in retired country towns, over congregations singularly attached to them, where they had leisure to pursue their favorite studies, and to prepare and publish their valuable works. Both were removed from

69 Works, i. 392 (London edition, 4 vols. 1831).
70 Genesis 12:19; 20:2.
71 Genesis 26:7.
72 1 Samuel 23:19; 26:1.
73 1 Samuel 24:6; 26:9.

these stations to become presidents of colleges, and both died shortly after their respective inaugurations; the one in the fifty-sixth, and the other in the fifty-seventh year of his age; each having preached, on the first Sabbath of the year of his death, on the text: 'This year thou shalt die."' 74

Now, let these circumstances be submitted for the consideration of rationalistic critics, and the probable decision will be that there was but one Jonathan Edwards.

We thus see that, if critics dared to tamper with the facts of secular, as they do with those of sacred history, they would justly incur the ridicule of all well-informed persons. Men clamor for the treatment of the Bible like any other book, yet treat it as they dare not treat another book. Herein lies the inconsistency of much of the current criticism; particularly of that "higher criticism" of which we hear so much.

The following case illustrates a spirit and practice not seldom exhibited by certain authors: "A Swedish traveller, in looking through Voltaire's library, found Calmet's Commentary, with slips of paper inserted, on which the difficulties noticed by Calmet were set down, without a word about the solutions which were given by him. 'This,' adds the Swede, who was otherwise a great admirer of Voltaire, was not honorable.'" "Our modern critics," continues Hengstenberg, 75 "have adopted exactly the same line of conduct."

We cannot but concur in the judgment couched in this and the following quotations.

Prof. Henry Rogers, 76 criticising Strauss's Life of Jesus, says it ought to be entitled, "A collection of all the difficulties and discrepancies which honest criticism has discovered, and perverted ingenuity has imagined, in the four evangelists."

Again, alluding to Strauss's objections, "The paraded discrepancies are frequently assumed; sometimes even manufactured." This criticism is supported by several illustrations from the German author, and is as applicable to his "New Life of Jesus," as to his earlier work.

The learned translator of Bleek 77 severely, yet fitly, designates the course pursued by certain authors as that "exaggeration of difficulties, that ostentatious parading of grounds of suspicion, which so painfully characterize much of the

74 See Memoir prefixed to Works of Edwards the younger, p. xxxiv. Observe that no one of the above cases bears, in respect to points of coincidence, worthy comparison with this unquestioned instance in modern times.
75 Genuineness of Pent. i. 47.
76 Reason and Faith, pp. 424, 427 (Boston edition).
77 Preface to Introduction to Old Testament.

later biblical criticism, and not unwarrantably give rise to the question whether there be not some secret ground of malevolence, some unacknowledged, but most influential desire to find reasons for an already existing unbelief, to account for the bitter and determined hostility with which the books are treated."

It is a lamentable fact that there is abroad in the world, and bearing the name of Christianity, a spirit which, as Canon Wordsworth 78 well says, "speaks fair words of Christ, and yet it loves to invent discrepancies, and to imagine contradictions in the narratives which his apostles and evangelists delivered of his birth, his temptation, his miracles, his agony, his sufferings, his resurrection, and ascension." We refrain from characterizing that Christianity which seeks to disparage its own sacred books, and to undermine its own foundation.

Such are the spirit and methods of much of the sceptical criticism—-even of the so-called "higher criticism"-—of our day.

A careful and protracted examination of the works of numerous authors, who from various positions and under various pretences assail the Bible, warrants, as neither unjust nor uncharitable, the remark that a large portion of then alleged "discrepancies" are purely subjective—originating, primarily, not in the sacred books, but in the misguided prejudices and disordered imagination of the critic.

We might also have adduced the very great compression of the narrative as a fruitful source of apparent incongruities. Such was the condensation which the writers were constrained to employ, that, in any given case, only a few of the more salient circumstances could be introduced. Had the sacred historians undertaken to relate every circumstance, the Bible, instead of being comprised in a single volume, would have filled many volumes, and would consequently have proved unwieldy, and well nigh useless to mankind.

If "the world itself could not contain the books" which should minutely detail all our Savior's acts, 79 how much less could it "contain" those which should narrate circumstantially the history of all the important personages mentioned in the scriptures.

We thus see that, with reference to any given event, a host of minute particulars have dropped from the knowledge of mankind, and are lost beyond recovery. Hence, in many instances, the thread of the narrative is not simply not obvious, but can only be recovered, if at all, by prolonged and searching scrutiny. That circumstances, combined in so fragmentary and disconnected a manner, should sometimes appear incompatible, is a fact too familiar to need illustration.

78 Preface to Greek Four Gospels, p. viii.
79 John 21:25.






Keith Hunt