behind the compiler to the earlier sources and thus push back the evidence of much of the Pentateuch beyond the date of its compilation to the earlier date of the sources. In identifying the compiler with Moses, Astruc failed to profit from some of his predecessors: and the fact that he held to the traditional (Mosaic) origin of the Pentateuch may have prevented him from seeing the similar facts which would have led him to continue his analysis into the remaining books of the Pentateuch.
For subsequent developments, and the fruitful results of documentary analysis as applied to the Pentateuch and other composite books, which cannot be dealt with in any detail here, reference must be made to the special articles on the books of the Old Testament.
The year of the publication of Astruc’s book saw also the publication of Bishop Lowth’s De sacra poesi Hebraeorum; later Lowth published a new translation of Isaiah with notes (1778). Lowth’s contribution to a more critical Lowth. appreciation of the Old Testament lies in his perception of the nature and significance of parallelism in Hebrew poetry, in his discernment of the extent to which the prophetical books are poetical in form, and in his treatment of the Old Testament as the expression of the thought and emotions of a people—in a word, as literature. Both Lowth’s works were translated and became influential in Germany.
In spite of these earlier achievements, it is J. G. Eichhorn who has, not without reason, been termed the “founder of modern Old Testament criticism.” Certainly the publication of his Einleitung (Introduction to the Old Testament), Eichhorn. in 1780-1783, is a landmark in the history of Old Testament criticism. An intimate friend of Herder, himself keenly interested in literature, he naturally enough treats the Old Testament as literature—like Lowth, but more thoroughly; and, as an Oriental scholar, he treats it as an Oriental literature. In both respects he was to be widely followed. His Introduction, consisting of three closely packed volumes dealing with textual as well as literary criticism, is the first comprehensive treatment of the entire Old Testament as literature. Much of the voluminous detailed work in this and other works is naturally enough provisional, but in the Introduction there emerge most of the broad conclusions of literary criticism (sometimes incomplete) which, after more than a century of keen examination by scholars unwilling to admit them, have passed by more or less general consent into the number of historical certainties or high probabilities. With his wide linguistic knowledge Eichhorn perceived that the language alone (though he also adduces other considerations) betrays the late origin of Ecclesiastes, which he places in the Persian Period (538-332 B.C.): Canticles, too, preserves linguistic features which are not of the Solomonic age. He analyses significant stylistic peculiarities such as occur, e.g., in Isaiah xxiv.-xxvii. For various reasons (here following Koppe, who just previously in additions to his translation of Lowth’s Isaiah had shown himself the pioneer of the higher criticism of the book of Isaiah) he argues that “in our Isaiah are many oracles not the work of this prophet.” In other directions the still powerful influence of tradition affects Eichhorn. He maintains the exilic origin of parts of Daniel, though he is convinced (here again in part by language) of the later origin of other parts. His Pentateuchal criticism is limited by the tradition of Mosaic authorship: but even within these limits he achieves much. He carries through, as Astruc had done, the analysis of Genesis into (primarily) two documents; he draws the distinction between the Priests’ Code, of the middle books of the Pentateuch, and Deuteronomy, the people’s law book; and admits that even the books that follow Genesis consist of different documents, many incomplete and fragmentary (whence the theory became known as the “Fragment-hypothesis”), but all the work of Moses and some of his contemporaries.
Other literary critics of the same period or a little later are Alex. Geddes, a Scottish Catholic priest, who projected, and in part carried out (1792-1800), a critically annotated new translation of the Old Testament, and argued therein that the Pentateuch ultimately rests on a variety of sources partly written, partly oral, but was compiled in Canaan probably in the reign of Solomon; K. D. Ilgen, the discoverer (1798) that there were two distinct documents in Genesis using the divine name Elohim, and consequently that there were three main sources in the books, not two, as Astruc and Eichhorn had conjectured; and J. S. Vater, the elaborator of the “Fragment-hypothesis.”
But the next distinct stage is reached when we come to De Wette, whose contributions to Biblical learning were many and varied, but who was pre-eminent in historical criticism. He carried criticism beyond literary analysis and De Wette. literary appreciation to the task of determining the worth of the documents as records, the validity of the evidence. His peculiar qualities were conspicuous in his early and exceedingly influential work—the Beiträge zur Einleitung in das Alte Testament (1806-1807). In the introduction to vol. ii. he carefully analyses the principles of sound historical method and the essentials of a trustworthy historical record. These principles he applied to the Old Testament, firstly to the Books of Chronicles, and then to the Pentateuch. The untrustworthiness of Chronicles—briefly admitted by Luther—he proved in detail, and so cleared the way for that truer view of the history and religion of Israel which the treatment of Chronicles as a trustworthy record of the past hopelessly obscured. In the criticism of the Pentateuch his most influential and enduring contributions to criticism are his proof that Deuteronomy is a work of the 7th century B.C., and his insistence that the theory of the Mosaic origin of all the institutions described in the Pentateuch is incompatible with the history of Israel as described in the historical books, Judges, Samuel and Kings.
Strong in historical criticism, De Wette was weak in historical construction. But what he failed to give, Ewald supplied, and if more of De Wette’s than of Ewald’s work still stands to-day, that is but an illustration of the melancholy Ewald. fact that in history negative criticism is surer than positive construction. But Ewald’s History of the People of Israel (1843-1859) was the first great attempt to synthesize the results of criticism and to present the history of Israel as a great reality of the past. By the force of his wide learning and even more of his personality, Ewald exercised for long an all-pervading and almost irresistible influence. He closes one epoch of Old Testament criticism; by his influence he retards the development of the next. Before passing to the new epoch it must suffice to make a simple reference to the philological work of Gesenius and Ewald, which assisted a sounder exegesis and so secured for later criticism a more stable basis.
The next stage brings us to the critical theories or conclusions which at first gradually and then rapidly, in spite of the keenest criticisms directed against them both by those who clung more or less completely to tradition and by the Vatke; Reuss. representatives of the earlier critical school, gained increasing acceptance, until to-day they dominate Old Testament study. The historico-critical starting-point of the movement was really furnished by De Wette: but it was Vatke who, in his Biblische Theologie wissenschaftlich dargestellt (1835), first brought out its essential character. The fundamental peculiarity of the movement lies in the fact that it is a criticism of what is supreme in Israel—its religion, and that it has rendered possible a true appreciation of this by showing that, like all living and life-giving systems of thought, belief and practice, the religion of Israel was subject to development. It seized on the prophetic element, and not the ceremonial, as containing what is essential and unique in the religion of Israel. In literary criticism its fundamental thesis, stated independently of Vatke and in the same year by George in Die älteren jüdischen Feste, and in a measure anticipated by Reuss, who in 1832 was maintaining in his academical lectures that the prophets were older than the Law and the Psalms more recent than both, is that the chronological order of the three main sources of the Hexateuch is (1) the prophetic narratives (JE), (2) Deuteronomy, (3) the Priestly Code (P), the last being post-exilic. This entirely reversed the prevailing view that P with its exact details and developed ceremonial and sacerdotal system was at once the earliest portion