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QUÆSTIONES MOSAIC Æ,
BOOK OF GENESIS
COMPARED WITH THE
REMAINS OF ANCIENT RELIGIONS
OSMOND DE BEAUVOIR PRIAULX.
Μη νύν εν ήθος μουνον έν σαυτο φόρε,
FROM THE CREATION TO THE DEATH OPADRATLAM.
The host of writers who have commented on the
be divided into three great parties. The first in point of numbers and discipline and authority is unquestionably the party of “the orthodox.' They reverence in the Bible an inspired book, the Book of Truth. But as their age has also its truths, and truths which none but a few unhappy thinkers ever venture to doubt, to these truths our orthodox commentators struggle to fashion their text: and we find them consequently with Scripture now confirming error, and with Scripture now opposing and now ratifying the new deductions of science. With them the Bible has as many meanings as man has opinions.— The second in point of time, the last in point of numbers and authority, are “ the infidels.” They despise the religion of which the Bible is the symbol; they see the present and the present only; they have eyes but for themselves and their own wants. Into the spirit
of the ancient world they seek not to penetrate : it is not their spirit: and the forms of old religion are for them therefore but the cunning devices of priestcraft to ensnare men's souls. — The third party, “the rationalists,” are of modern date : they form a middle class between the orthodox and the infidel. They have appreciated the wants of their age, and with reverence they have approached the remains of antiquity: they have caught some portion of its spirit : but they have erred in that they have translated into modern language the idioms of a society long since extinct; in that they have seen only the naked fact, and not the fact as seen by those who have transmitted it to us. They have made the ancient world a confused reflexion of the modern.
To no one of these classes do I belong. I have no preconceived theory to which I would wrest the text I have attempted to elucidate. I have sought but to ascertain the views and opinions of which the Pentateuch may be considered the expression. I began therefore by putting aside all question of its inspiration, well assured however, that if indeed inspired, the fact would press itself upon me at every line. I then read Genesis, to