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ABRAHAM
ABRAHAM
54

blessed him." Amongst the Tel-el-Amarna letters is one from Ebed-Tob, King of Jerusalem (the city is Ursalim, i.e. city of Salim, and it is spoken of as Salem). He is priest appointed by Salem, the god of Peace, and is hence both king and priest. In the same manner Melchisedech is priest and king, and naturally comes to greet Abraham returning in peace; and hence, too, Abraham offers to him as to a priest a tithe of the spoils. On the other hand, it must be stated that Professor Driver will not admit Sayce's deductions from the inscriptions as to Ebed-Tob, and will not recognize any analogy between Salem and the Most High God.

Taking archæology as a whole, it cannot be doubted that no definite results have been attained as to Abraham. What has come to light is susceptible of different interpretations. But there is no doubt that archæology is putting an end to the idea that the patriarchal legends are mere myth. They are shown to be more than that. A state of things is being disclosed in patriarchal times quite consistent with much that is related in Genesis, and at times even apparently confirming the facts of the Bible.

Viewpoint of Legend.—We come now to the question: how far legend plays a part in the life of Abraham as recorded in Genesis. It is a practical and important question, because it is so much discussed by modern critics and they all believe in it. In setting forth the critical view on the subject, I must not be taken as giving my own views also.

Hermann Gunkel, in the Introduction to his Commentary on Genesis (3) writes: "There is no denying that there are legends in the Old Testament, consider for instance the stories of Samson and Jonah. Accordingly it is not a matter of belief or scepticism, but merely a matter of obtaining better knowledge, to examine whether the narratives of Genesis are history or legend." And again: "In a people with such a highly developed poetical faculty as Israel there must have been a place for saga too. The senseless confusion of 'legend' with 'lying' has caused good people to hesitate to concede that there are legends in the Old Testament. But legends are not lies; on the contrary, they are a particular form of poetry." These passages give a very good idea of the present position of the Higher Criticism relative to the legends of Genesis, and of Abraham in particular.

The first principle enunciated by the critics is that the accounts of the primitive ages and of the patriarchal times originated amongst people who did not practise the art of writing. Amongst all peoples, they say, poetry and saga were the first beginning of history; so it was in Greece and Rome, so it was in Israel. These legends were circulated, and handed down by oral tradition, and contained, no doubt, a kernel of truth. Very often, where individual names are used these names in reality refer not to individuals but to tribes, as in Genesis, x, and the names of the twelve Patriarchs, whose migrations are those of the tribes they represent. It is not of course to be supposed that these legends are no older than the collections J, E, and P, in which they occur. They were in circulation ages before, and for long periods of time, those of earlier origin being shorter, those of later origin longer, often rather romances than legends, as that of Joseph. Nor were they all of Israelitish origin; some were Babylonian, some Egyptian. As to how the legends arose, this came about, they say, in many ways. At times the cause was etymological, to explain the meaning of a name, as when it is said that Isaac received his name because his mother laughed (çūḥiq); sometimes they were ethnological, to explain the geographical position, the adversity, or prosperity, of a certain tribe; sometimes historical, sometimes ceremonial, as the account explaining the covenant of circumcision; sometimes geological, as the explanation of the appearance of the Dead Sea and its surroundings. Ætiological legends of this kind form one class of those to be found in the lives of the patriarchs and elsewhere in Genesis. But there are others besides which do not concern us here.

When we try to discover the age of the formation of the patriarchal legends, we are confronted with a question of great complexity. For it is not merely a matter of the formation of the simple legends separately, but also of the amalgamation of these into more complex legends. Criticism teaches us that that period would have ended about the year 1200 b.c. Then would have followed the period of remodeling the legends, so that by 900 b.c. they would have assumed substantially the form they now have. After that date, whilst the legends kept in substance to the form they had received, they were modified in many ways so as to bring them into conformity with the moral standard of the day, still not so completely that the older and less conventional ideas of a more primitive age did not from time to time show through them. At this time, too, many collections of the ancient legends appear to have been made, much in the same way as St. Luke tells us in the beginning of his Gospel that many had written accounts of Our Saviour's life on their own authority.

Amongst other collections were those of J in the South and E in the North. Whilst others perished these two survived, and were supplemented towards the end of the captivity by the collection of P, which originated amidst priestly surroundings and was written from the ceremonial standpoint. Those that hold these views maintain that it is the fusion of these three collections of legends which has led to confusion in some incidents in the life of Abraham as for instance in the case of Sarai in Egypt, where her age seems inconsistent with her adventure with the Pharao. Hermann Gunkel writes (148): "It is not strange that the chronology of P displays everywhere the most absurd oddities when injected into the old legends, as a result, Sarah is still at sixty-five a beautiful woman whom the Egyptians seek to capture, and Ishmael is carried on his mother's shoulders after he is a youth of sixteen."

The collection of P was intended to take the place of the old combined collection of J and E. But the old narrative had a firm hold of the popular imagination and heart. And so the more recent collection was combined with the other two, being used as the groundwork of the whole, especially in chronology. It is that combined narrative which we now possess.

Hummelauer, Genesis (Paris, 1895); Sayce, Early Hist. of the Hebrews (London, 1897); Ryle in Hastings, Hist. of the Bible (London, 1898); Driver, Genesis (London, 1904); Carpenter and Battersby, The Hexateuch (London, 1900); Renan, Hist. du peuple d'Israel (Paris, 1887); Gunkel, Die Genesis (Göttingen, 1901).

Abraham (in Liturgy).—While of peculiar interest to the liturgiologist (especially in the classification of the liturgies of the East and of the West, as is noted below under Missal), the inclusion of noted names of the Old Testament in the liturgies of Christian Churches must be a subject of sufficiently general interest to warrant some brief notice here. Of all the names thus used, a special prominence accrues to those of Abel, Melchisedech, Abraham through their association with the idea of sacrifice and their employment in this connection in the most solemn part of the Canon of the Mass in the Roman rite. The inclusion in the Litany for the Dying (Roman Ritual) of only two (Abel and Abraham) out of all the great names of the Old Testament must give these a special prominence in the eyes of the faithful, but of these two, again, the name of Abraham occurs so often and in such a variety of connections, as to make his position in the liturgy one of very decided pre-eminence. Of first interest