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BRITISH AND FOREIGN
ART. I.-Jehovistic and Elohistic Theories.
inquiry as this which is indicated in our title, and to which we have already directed attention in a recent paper. The alternation of the Divine names, God and LORD, Elohim and Jehovah, forms so remarkable a feature of the Old Testament Scriptures that, so soon as attention is turned to it, there is an instantaneous conviction that it is not the result of accident, and there is a desire awakened for some explanation. For more than a hundred years this desire has been mocked by one great critical school, and it has been left practically unanswered by the other. The variation in the names has been made a foundation for the wildest theories of rationalism, and has played its part in every modern attack upon the integrity of the books of the Old Testament; while, on the other hand, we have the almost unanimous confession of orthodox theologians that it has never yet found an adequate explanation. On the one side there is confident assertion and the most determined persistence in pushing so-called facts to their furthest consequences ; on the other, while there is success in the criticism of hostile theories, there is, in the attempt
VOL. XXXI.-NO. CXX.
to explain the phenomenon, only manifest failure or unconcealed despair.
It would appear indeed that, notwithstanding all the attention which the question has excited, it is still necessary to ascertain the very elements of the problem. Two writers on the Psalms, to whom the English public owe a debt of gratitude, and who have no sympathy with the theories which the alleged facts are made to support, give currency, for example, to the assertion that in the first forty-one Psalms Jehovah occurs 272 times and Elohim only fifteen times. The former statement is nearly correct, but the latter gives less than a third of the real number. Elohim occurs, in fact, no fewer than forty-eight times. But the implicit faith reposed in the results published by Delitzsch has led to a more astounding statement. Perowne says : “From Psalm lxxxv. to the end of the Psalter the name Jehovah again becomes prevalent, and, to such an extent, that in Books Iv. and v. (Ps. xc.-Ps. cl.) it occurs 339 times, and Elohim, of the true God, but once (cxliv. 9).” Binnie gives the same figures, but with the important modification that Elohim occurs occasionally “in a composite form,” though“ in its simple form” it is but once met with as applied to the true God. “ These curious facts," he adds, “were first collected by Dr. Delitzsch in a work published twenty-four years ago. Their importance has been universally recognised.” It is an unpleasant task to point out mistakes in works otherwise so painstaking and admirable ; but it is hard to imagine how so unfounded a statement ever came to be made. In Psalm cviii. alone Elohim is found six times in its simple form; and for Books iv. and v. of the Psalter the true figures are—Jehovah 384, Elohim 45. Hengstenberg has allowed himself to be misled in the same way. “ In the whole fourth book," he says, “ Elohim does not occur once, in the fifth only seven times, while Jehovah, according to Delitzsch, occurs 236 times.” It will hardly be credited in the face of these statements, made by one writer and adopted by another, both of European fame, that in the seventeen Psalms which form the fourth book (Pss. XC.-cvi.), Elohim occurs eighteen times, and in the fifth (Pss. cvii.-cl.) twentyseven and not seven times !
1 Perowne, The Book of Psalms, i. 75 ; Binnie, The Psalms, etc., 128.
Mistakes of the Theorists.
But this absence of careful inquiry is as painfully conspicuous in many of the theories. Colenso maintains that Elohim was the older name, and was gradually supplanted by Jehovah. Mr. Robertson Smith believes, on the contrary, that Jehovah, being regarded in later times as too sacred a name for use, was discontinued, and that Elohim was not only used instead, but was even substituted for Jehovah in writings of an older date. Now, the slightest glance at the names in the books of the Old Testament is, as we shall afterwards see, alike destructive of the one theory and the other. Hengstenberg asserts, with quite as little foundation, that, while “ Elohim had become so strange in later times that only the Jehovah-Psalms of David were taken for insertion into the later cycles," yet at some earlier period Jehovah had been so abused that it was discontinued in favour of Elohim, and that Elohim by itself is to be taken as equivalent to Jehovah-Elohim! The opinion of Delitzsch is exceedingly curious. He holds that the names neither indicate different authors, nor is the choice of them determined in any way by the subject with which the author deals. It was merely an attempt to honour God by using now the one name, now the other. “ One and the same author at one time pleased himself in the use of the Divine name Elohim, and at another time in the use of the Divine name Jehovah !” With Lange, Kalisch, and others, Elohim is the name of God in His relation to mankind at large, and Jehovah His name as Israel's God; and yet we find Jehovah in places where no reference to Israel is possible, and even in the lips of the heathen. Quite as little importance seems to be attached to consistency as to inquiry. Colenso strenuously contends that the use of the names is an undeniable mark of different authorship. And yet he not only admits that both were used alike by the Elohist and by the Jehovist : he is at pains to show that they are not synonymous, and that each writer was occasionally compelled by his subject-matter to use the name which is said to characterise the productions of the other. What possible basis can be left for the rationalistic theory after such an admission as this? The same confession is made even more fully by Bleek. Not only does he admit that the names are not synonymous : he contends that there are cases where
1 The Pentateuch, etc., critically examined, p. 257, etc.
Jehovah and Elohim could not be exchanged. What place is left then, the reader asks, for the theory which Bleek, like the rest of his school, supports ? The reply is ingenious. Where either name may be employed so far as the context is concerned, you may then discover in their use the marks of diverse authorship. But even under this form of the theory it is impossible for him to remain consistent. He goes right in the teeth of his own canon in his view of Job, maintaining the entire unity of the book in the face of the most marked diversity in the use of the names that is to be found in the whole of the Old Testament.
While unfounded statements are accepted as undoubted facts, and theories are propounded which fall to pieces ere they are launched, it cannot be said that criticism has achieved, or even attempted, much in regard to this problem. Were this merely a critical question its present position might be of little moment; but in one which affects so closely the interpretation of many parts of Scripture, this position is the reverse of creditable to the boasted science of our time. previous article, on The Divine Names in Genesis, an explanation was offered of the variation in the use of the names; but little was then attempted beyond showing that it held for the Book of Genesis. It is indeed true that in Genesis the theories are supposed to find their fullest justification, and any demonstration, therefore, that they are needless there must touch them at a vital point. But the subject has wider ramifications, and in any full discussion of it we must necessarily pass beyond the Pentateuch. We now propose to offer another humble contribution toward the settlement of this vexed question, and to consider it in its relation to the entire body of the Old Testament Scriptures.
We shall notice first of all what are imagined to be undoubted proofs that the names are indicative of diverse authorship. These, it may be remarked, are mainly after-discoveries. They contributed nothing to the origination of the theories, but were subsequently cited as confirmatory of them. It is well to remember this, as it will help to explain a rather unusual feature in “proofs,” which it will by and bye be
1 Introduction to Old Testament, vol. i. pp. 268, 269. ? Ibid. vol. ii. p. 289.
3 April, 1881.
The so-called second account of Creation.
evident enough that these possess in a marked degree. The only “proof,” which can be said to have suggested a theory in regard to the names, is that found in Genesis ii. 4-25, and which “liberal" theologians are wont to call a "second account of the creation of the world, and of man," some features of another cosmogony." ? It has been already shown in our former article that the repetition in Gen. ii. 4-7, is only in keeping with the plan on which the book is constructed, and is, indeed, one among many proofs of its unity. The book is a series of genealogies, and every new section begins as here with a recapitulation. We now notice one or two other facts, alike fatal to the theory that we have here an independent account of creation, and therefore a proof that the use of Jehorah-Elohim instead of Elohim, employed in the previous chapter, marks the advent of a new author. It is quite clear, for example, that Toledoth (“the generations ") does not refer to origin, but rather to after-development and history. The generations of Adam, of Noah, and of the sons of Noah, are not the story of their origin, but of the families and races which sprung from them. The very use then of the phrase, “these are the generations of the heavens and the earth" presupposes, if the account is to be complete, a previous section, in which the origin of the heavens and the earth is related; and this opens, as we know, not with “These are the generations,” but " In the beginning." History could go no further back,—“In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” And, when we take up this “second account,” every statement bears out the truth of our contention. It may not be beneath a careful critic to notice a remarkable change in the phraseology of Gen. ii. 4. The opening words of the verse are, “ These are the generations of the heavens and of the earth,” but at the close this order is reversed. We read of “the earth and the heavens.” The change is significant. It indicates that upon the earth, the end, toward which God was reaching in the creation of the material universe, is now to be manifested. Quite in accordance with this, the second chapter has no further reference to the heavens : not a word is said as to the creation of sun, moon, stars, or firmament. Is it possible for this silence to be 1 Alford in loc.