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of First and Second Samuel, First and Second Kings, and First and Second Chronicles; it embodies a careful analytical outline, the value of which, it is thought, will be as great as those sections displaying the Harmony idea-an outline, toward the perfection of which every verse of the six books in question has contributed its sharean outline, in which books, parts, divisions, sections, subsections, and even the subdivisions of the subsections, all have their own individual raison d'être.
From the very nature of the case, the Harmony involves a study of the chronology. Such study, while it has been one of the most fascinating features of the whole work, has likewise been the most difficult. In the matter of Biblical chronology, the basal law seems to be, “ Every man for himself, and the critic take the hindermost.” In conformity with the workings of this law, the author of the present work does not profess to agree with any one among the many different authorities on Bible chronology—that is, in detail; though it would be here proper to state that all the material available for chronological study has been used, and where traditional views and interpretations have been departed from, it has been only after the maturest consideration and the most careful weighing of evidence.
It would simply be an impossibility, in a volume of this size, to give all the reasons for adopting the particular order in the disputed cases; for those reasons are oftentimes purely internal. A full discussion of the reasons for the particular order of events in Elisha's life, for example, would occupy many pages. The same may be said of the interpretation of the life and history of David ; but where it has been feasible, attention has been called to such reasons in the footnotes.
For the merits of the chronology, my especial thanks are due to Dr. Willis J. Beecher, Professor of the Hebrew Language and Literature in the Auburn Theological Seminary, whose study and system of chronology have not only been of inestimable value in the preparation of this work, but whose personal suggestions have always been most helpful.
The text is that of the Revised Version of 1884, which, for purposes of historical study, is confessedly the best English version to be had. The footnotes are, to a great extent, the marginal readings of the Revised Version ; though from the natural requirements of the Harmony, several hundred of these have been omitted as needless, and a few others for other reasons. Many have been slightly changed, or added to, for the convenience of the student. The remaining notes are inserted for chronological or other explanatory reasons.
The Four Gospels, as the original material for the study of the life of Christ, must ever be the ground of absorbing and supremest interest to the Bible student. What those four books are to the New Testament, as the field for historical study, the six books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles are to the Old : they are the principal sources of Old Testament history and chronology, and are the books most under discussion to-day. A Harmony of the Gospels has already become the indispensable aid to every student of the life of Christ, or even of the literature of the New Testament. It is hoped that this work will meet a long-felt want for some such study of the principal historical books of the Older Revelation. INTRODUCTION.
A “Harmony," the volume has been called, though, as already stated above, it is much more than a mere Harmony. On the other hand, it is to be remembered that much that is arranged in parallel columns in it is not harmonious-cannot be made harmonious. And yet, in this very connection, it is also to be remembered, that the parallel passages are valuable, not so much for their perfect correspondences as for their many differences; for God's Word and we are the richer far for every such difference. It is hoped that the careful study of these pages will help to reconcile some of these divergencies. Many will probably never be solved until we come to stand before the Great White Throne. But if this volume will aid in any way to a clearer knowledge of some of the many knowable things, and by that knowledge, aidthough but indirectly–in the fulfilling of the loving Master's greatest prayer, that the Kingdom may come, it will accomplish that whereunto it is sent.
WILLIAM D. CROCKETT.
June 16, 1897.
BY PROFESSOR WILLIS J. BEECHER, D.D.,
which my friend Mr. Crockett has prepared. Not many words are needed. The plan of the book speaks for itself.
In Old Testament study, at present, the thing that most demands investigation is the Old Testament itself. This fact is so obvious as to be accepted by all and understood by only a very few. By studying the Old Testament itself, some mean the looking up of points therein for illustrating current religious doctrine and experience. Others mean the repeating of the interpretations of the history, as these have been handed down to us from the time of Josephus. Others mean the examination of the new knowledge concerning the Bible derived from travels and surveys and explorations. Yet others understand the mental unraveling of the literary work done by the men who wrote the books of the Old Testament, the analyzing of these into certain real or supposed original documents, with conjectures as to the authorship of the original documents, and the processes by which they were combined until they assumed the form in which we now have them.
All these ways of study have their value, but none of them is, properly speaking, the study of the Old Testament as it now exists. The first is the study of certain matters in the Old Testament, and not of the Old Testament itself. One might pursue it for a lifetime without acquiring anything like a connected idea as to either the books or their contents. The second, except indirectly, is not a study of the Old Testament at all. From babyhood we have been familiar with the current superficial understanding of the events recorded; it is time that we turn from this and ask what the Old Testament actually says concerning these events. The third is indissolubly connected with the second. If through our traditional mistakes we misinterpret the statements made in the Scriptures, this will lead us equally to misinterpret what the monuments have to say on the same subjects. And the fourth form of study above mentioned is not a study of the Old Testament, but of the real or supposed sources of the Old Testament. As far as it is based upon an inadequate understanding of the Old Testament as it stands, so far is it necessarily crude and misleading.
What we need is something different from these four forms of study, something that is presupposed by each of the four, something that is demanded as the basis of each of the four, namely, the study of the contents and the form of the books of the Old Testament as they stand. When we thoroughly understand the things which the existing Old Testament says, and the literary form in which it says them, we shall be better prepared to analyze our existing Scriptures into their primary component parts, and to understand those parts; and we shall be qualified to perceive the true bearing of the information gained by recent discoveries, to estimate traditional interpretations rightly, to appreciate more fully the religious teachings.
It is a thing especially commendable in the work of my friend Mr. Crockett that he has labored in this part of the field, here where labor is needed. He has set himself to understand, and to help others understand, a portion of the contents of the Old Testament itself.
In large sections of the volume he has done nothing more than print parallel accounts in parallel columns for ready reference. So far the value is merely mechanical-a mere bit of convenient machinery. This by itself was worth the doing, but he has done far more than this. He has himself attained to a firm grasp upon the history as a whole, and has attempted, by a careful analysis, to show others how to take the same grasp. In traversing three fourths of the path this was relatively simple. It was the remaining fourth, lying in separate sections at half a dozen different points, that taxed his skill and industry and patience. The larger half of the value of his work is that which appears, in comparatively small bulk, in these difficult sections.
Of course, not all his results will at once be accepted as final. Every scholar will think him correct to the extent to which he agrees with him, and no further. It is for these best parts of Mr. Crockett's work that fault is most likely to be found with him. The reader will occasionally miss the confusing but familiar landmarks of the Josephan interpretation of the history, and will be ready at once to exclaim that Mr. Crockett has lost his way. In such instances, however, he will do well to take the trouble to understand the offered interpretation before absolutely rejecting it.
I have enough confidence in the intelligence and industry of the present generation of students of the Bible to lead me to expect that this volume will have wide acceptance and usefulness.
AUBURN, New York, June, 1897.