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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 38.djvu/463

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A skill in theology and casuistry so exquisitely developed as to permit such assertions, and a faith so robust as to warrant their acceptance, leave certainly nothing to be desired. But how baseless these contentions are is seen, first, by the simple history of the attitude of the Church toward this question; and, secondly, by the fact that comparative philology now reveals beyond a doubt that not only is Hebrew not the original or oldest language upon earth, but that it is not even the oldest form in the Semitic group to which it belongs. To use the language of one of the most eminent modern authorities, "It is now generally recognized that in grammatical structure the Arabic preserves much more of the original forms than either the Hebrew or Aramaic."

Science places inexorably the account of the confusion of tongues and the dispersion of races at Babel among the myths.

A more complete relinquishment of the old contention is made by Archdeacon Farrar, Canon of Westminster. With a boldness which in an earlier period might have cost him dear, but which merits praise even in this time for its courage, he says: "For all reasoners except that portion of the clergy who in all ages have been found among the bitterest enemies of scientific discovery, these considerations have been conclusive. But, strange to say, here, as in so many other instances, this self-styled orthodoxy—more orthodox than the Bible itself—directly contradicts the very Scriptures which it professes to explain, and by sheer misrepresentation succeeds in producing a needless and deplorable collision between the statements of Scripture and those other mighty and certain truths which have been revealed to science and humanity as their glory and reward."

Still another most honorable acknowledgment was made in America through the instrumentality of a divine of the Methodist Episcopal Church, whom the present generation at least will hold in honor, not only for his scholarship, but for his patriotism in the darkest hour of his country's need—John McClintock. In the article on Language, in the Biblical Cyclopædia, edited by him and the Rev. Dr. Strong, which appeared in 1873, the whole sacred theory is quietly given up, and the scientific view accepted.[1]

  1. For Kayser, see his work, Ueber die Ursprache, oder über eine Behauptung Mosis, dass alle Sprachen der Welt von einer einzigen der Noachischen abstammen, Erlangen, 1840, 192 pp.; see especially pp. 5, 80, 95, 112. For Wiseman, see his Lectures on the Connection between Science and Revealed Religion, London, 1836. For examples typical of very many in this field, see the Works of Pratt, 1856; Dwight, 1858; Jamieson, 1868. For citation from Cumming, see his Great Tribulation, London, 1859, p. 4; see also his Things hard to be understood, London, 1861, p. 48. For an admirable summary of the work cf the great modern philologists, and a most careful estimate of the conclusions reached, see Prof. Whitney's article on Philology in the Encyclopædia Britannica. A copy of Mr. Atkinson's book is in the Harvard College Library, it having been presented by the