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Christ In Type And Prophecy: Volumes 1&2 by Rev. A.J. Maas S.J.

AWILL may be contested on the plea of defective formality in the written document or of the testator’s incompetency to dispose of his property in the particular manner indicated in the testament. In the contest about the validity of God’s will and testament, now carried on with such earnestness and even bitterness, the plea of incompetence cannot claim the slightest weight of probability. All that the tribunal of reason can investigate is the signature with which God has signed his covenant. This divine seal attesting the reality of God’s promises is composed of miracles and prophecies. Though the latter are only a species of the former, we must for the present limit our investigation to this narrower sphere, studying first the nature and properties of prophecy in general, and then comparing meaning with fulfilment of the particular Messianic predictions.

1. HISTORY OF THE PROPHECY-ARGUMENT: a. Jesus uses it.—Before beginning our research proper, it is of the highest importance to review briefly what may be called the history of the Christian argument from prophecy, and to state its strict dialectic form. We cannot do better than open the historic outline of the prophetic argument with the words of Jesus addressed to his enemies: “Search the scriptures, for you think in them to have life everlasting: and the same are they that give testimony of me” (Jo. 5:39). On another occasion Jesus again appealed to the prophets: “It is written in the prophets: and they shall all be taught of God. Every one that hath heard of the Father, and hath learned, cometh to me” (Jo. 6:45). And to show us that this argument is intended not only to confound the enemies of revelation, but also to strengthen the faith of believers, Jesus speaks to the two disciples on the way to Emmaus: “O foolish and slow of heart to believe in all things which the prophets have spoken! Ought not Christ to have suffered these things, and so to enter into his glory? And beginning at Moses and all the prophets, he expounded to them in all the scriptures the things that were concerning him” (Luke 24:25–27).

b. The Apostles use the Argument.—The apostles were not slow to learn the use they might make of the prophetic writings. St. Peter, addressing his brethren after Jesus’ ascension into heaven, speaks as follows: “Men brethren, the scriptures must needs be fulfilled which the Holy Ghost spoke before by the mouth of David concerning Judas, who was the leader of them that apprehended Jesus …” (Acts 1:16). A few days later, on the feast of Pentecost, the same apostle speaks to the assembled multitude: “This is that which was spoken of by the prophet Joel: And it shall come to pass, in the last days (saith the Lord) I will pour out my spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy, and your young men shall see visions, and your old men shall dream dreams …” (Acts 2:16 f.). On the same occasion the prince of the apostles appeals to a Messianic prophecy as a proof of Jesus’ resurrection from the dead: “David saith concerning him: I foresaw the Lord before my face always, because he is at my right hand that I may not be moved; for this my heart hath been glad, and my tongue hath rejoiced: moreover my flesh also shall rest in hope, because thou wilt not leave my soul in hell, nor suffer thy Holy One to see corruption” (Acts 2:25–27). And when Peter and John had healed the lame man at the Beautiful Gate, Peter again appealed to the prophecies in order to convince his numerous audience that the Christ must suffer: “Those things which God before had showed by the mouth of all the prophets that his Christ should suffer, he hath fulfilled” (Acts 3:18). In the course of his discourse the same apostle appeals to Moses’ prophecy as a proof that Jesus is the Christ: “For Moses said: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me: him you shall hear according to all things whatsoever he shall speak to you. And it shall be that every soul which will not hear the prophet shall be destroyed from among the people. And all the prophets from Samuel and afterwards, who have spoken, have told of these days” (Acts 3:22–24). This practice St. Peter must have continued throughout his apostolical life. In his second epistle (1:19) he insists again on the argument derived from prophecy: “And we have the more firm prophetical word, whereunto you do well to attend, as to a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day-star arise in your hearts.” Here the prince of the apostles exhorts us to be guided by the light of prophecy even to that time when the light of glory shall be our lamp.

c. The Evangelists use it.—The prophetic argument is so often urged in the Gospel according to St. Matthew that we can here only indicate some of the principal references without stating either prophecy or fulfilment fully. Compare Mat. 1:23 and Is. 7:14; Mat. 2:6 and Mich. 5:2; Mat. 2:15 and Os. 11:1; Mat. 2:18 and Jer. 31:15; Mat. 3:3 and Is. 40:3; Mat. 4:15 and Is. 9:1; Mat. 8:17 and Is. 53:4; Mat. 11:5 and Is, 35:5; Mat. 11:5 and Is. 61:1; Mat 11:10 and Mal. 3:1; Mat. 11:14 and Mal. 4:5; Mat. 12:17 f. and Is. 42:1; Mat. 12:39 and Jon. 2:1; Mat. 13:14 and Is. 6:9; Mat. 13:35 and Ps. 77 (78):2; Mat. 15:30 and Is. 35:5; Mat. 16:4 and Jon. 2:1; Mat. 21:13 and Is. 56:7; Mat. 24:15 and Dan. 9:27; Mat. 26:24 and Ps. 40 (41):10; Mat. 26:31 and Zach. 13:7; Mat. 26:54 and Is. 53:10; Mat. 26:56 and Lam. 4:20; Mat. 27:9 and Zach. 11:12; Mat. 27:35 and Ps. 22:18. The prophecies of Isaias are cited between fifty and sixty times in the New Testament, and the Psalms are quoted not less than seventy times, and very frequently as being predictive. Ezechiel, Abdias, Nahum, and Sophonias seem not to be directly appealed to in the New Testament writings; but it must be remembered that the “Prophets” are often spoken of together (Mat. 2:23; Acts 13:40, 15:15) as being authoritative.

d. The Patristic Use of the Argument.—Still when we keep in mind that the argument from prophecy is one of the mainstays in the apology for revelation, it may surprise us at first sight that it is employed so rarely in the New Testament. But the references to the Old Testament prophecies are so scarce in the New Testament not from any special design, but because the occasions for their use were so few. In point of fact, some Messianic prophecies of the greatest import have been entirely omitted in the New Testament, e.g., Is. 9:5, 6; Jer. 23:5, 6; Zach. 6:12, 13. The epistle of Barnabas (71–120 A.D.) and Justin’s dialogue against Trypho (d. about 163 A.D.) begin a more extensive and systematic discussion of the Messianic predictions. Justin’s work may be called a missionary production, and the author is in so far inferior to his opponent as he is acquainted with the Old Testament only through the secondary source of the Septuagint. Origen (d. 254 A.D.) was in this respect better equipped to meet (in his eighth book) Celsus (about 247 A.D.) on the heathen and the Jewish misrepresentations of the person of Christ. But his work suffered from the arbitrary allegorization in which the Alexandrian school imitated Philo. The historical interpretation of the Antiochian school brought about a reaction, and Theodore of Antioch, bishop of Mopsuestia, transgressed in this way the lines of prudence and even of truth (d. 428 A.D.).

e. The progressive Development of Messianic Prophecy.—The preparation for the Christian redemption through a progressive and connected history in the Old Testament seems not to have been noticed till the time of the middle ages. The patristic writers appeal to single prophecies or state in general terms that the prophetic argument for Christianity is a powerful one; but they do not perceive the full historic perspective of the Messianic predictions (cf. Chrysost., in Jo. hom. xix n. 2, t. lix. col. 121; hom. li n. 1, col. 283–284; August., de Civ. Dei, l. xviii. c. 41, n. 3, t. xli. col. 602). With Cocceius (d. 1669) began the method of treating the Old Testament in periods. It is to Catholic writers that we owe the first deeper insight into prophecy. Pascal (Pensées, éd. Molinier, t. ii. p. 11), Bossuet (Discours sur l’histoire universelle; lettres sur le “shilo,” cf. Analecta juris pontificii, 1876, col. 1011 sqq.), and Huet (Démonstration évangélique, Paris 1679) have given clear proof of their thorough appreciation of prophecy. Spener and his school greatly advanced the same study. They were followed in their endeavors by Abadie (Accomplissement des prophéties en Jesus-Christ, La Haye 1689), Camphausen, S.J. (Passio Jesu Christi adumbrata in figuris et prophetiis antiquæ legis a SS. PP. et Scripturæ sacræ interpretibus explicata, Coloniis, 1704), Clarke (Connexion of Prophecies in the Old Testament and Application to Christ, London, 1725), Kidder (Demonstration of the Messiah, London, 1726), John Gill (The Prophecies of the Old Testament Literally Fulfilled in Jesus, London, 1728), Gillies (Essays on the Prophecies relating to the Messiah, Edinburgh, 1773), Maclaurin (Essay on the Prophecies relating to the Messiah, London, 1778), Hales (Dissertations on the Principal Prophecies, 2d ed., London, 1802), and Robinson (Prophecies on the Messiah, London, 1812). Meanwhile Schoettgen’s Horæ Hebraicæ et Talmudicæ (vol. ii. de Messia, 1742) had appeared, a work of so eminent scholarship that it scarcely stands in need of any further commendation. Its only defect, if defect it can be called, consists in making Christian theologians out of Jewish rabbis.

f. Why the Argument was Treated so frequently: α. IN ENGLAND.—It is not surprising that about this period so many treatises on the Prophecies were written; for the supernatural character of Christianity had been attacked on all sides and in all countries. Grotius (1583–1646) and Spinoza (1632–1677) had prepared the way for rationalism by corrupting the genuine idea of scriptural inspiration. Pereyrius, too, minimized the supernatural element in Christianity by reducing the miracles to the smallest possible number (1594–1676). In England it was under the fair name of Deism that Christianity was attacked. Herbert Cherbury (De veritate prout distinguitur a revelatione, a verisimili, a falso, 1629), John Toland (Christianity Not Mysterious), Tindal (Christianity as Old as Creation, 1740), Woolston (On the Miracles of Christ), Collins (On Free Thought), Bolingbroke, Chubb, Whiston, Shaftesbury, Whittey, Somers, Wharton, Shrewsbury, and Buckingham are some of the principal apostles of Deism. It is true that on the other hand appeared several direct refutations of the above works and writers. Locke (Reasonable Christianity, 1695), Kortholt (De tribus impostoribus magnis liber, Eduardo Herbert, Thomæ Hobbesio, et Benedicto Spinosæ oppositus, 1680), Browne (Refutation of Toland’s Christianity Not Mysterious, 1696), James Foster (Defence of the Usefulness, etc., of the Christian religion against Tindal, 1731), John Conybeare (Defence of Revealed Religion, in answer to Christianity as Old as Creation, 1732), and Leland (A View of the Principal Deistical Writers that have appeared in England in the Last and Present Century, 3 vols., 1754–1756), uphold the supernatural character of Christianity. But it is to be regretted that some of these apologetic works have done more harm than good to their cause.

β. IN FRANCE.—In 1726 Voltaire had to take refuge in England, where he lived for nearly two years in the society of the “Freethinkers.” Here he was thoroughly imbued with the writings and the views of Bolingbroke, so that his own works after his return to France in 1728 took the same tone. It is worthy of notice that Voltaire took his difficulties against the inspired writings and against revealed truth in general from the classical commentaries of Calmet. This method of copying the learned scholar’s objections without so much as mentioning their solution, or even the source from which they had been taken, is truly worthy of the parent of the French Encyclopædists.

γ. IN GERMANY.—Strauss remarks that in the battle against supernatural religion England has prepared the arms, France has taught the world how to use them, and Germany has been the first to attack the orthodox citadel of Sion. The Wolfian philosophy may be said to have prepared the way for the direct attack by freeing the human mind from the strict letter of the Bible (about the middle of the eighteenth century). Laur. Schmidt (Bibel von Wertheim, 1735) went so far as to translate the Pentateuch into the language of the Wolfian philosophy. The critical Bible editions of Wetstein (1751) and Griesbach (1779) began to shake men’s confidence in the inspired text. Edelmann (1746) was an advocate of pantheism, and placed the origin of the New Testament in the time of Constantine the Great. Barhdt (1784) makes Jesus the tool or the ruler of a secret society. Nicolai indirectly propagates rationalism in his “Bibliotheca Germanica Universa” (1765–1792); and in his “Life and Opinions of Master Sebaldus Nothanker” he proposes a model parson, who teaches his congregation when to rise in the morning, how to take care of their health, how to keep their tools, how to cultivate their fields, and other matters of practical importance. About this time things had come to such a pass that few ministers were willing or able to explain the Gospel to the faithful. John Albert Bengel (d. 1752) and Christian Augustus Crusius (d. 1775) had modified the idea of inspiration, no longer regarding the prophets as merely passive, but also as active instruments of the divine spirit. But the climax was reached when Lessing began to publish the “Fragments of Wolfenbüttel,” the work of his deceased friend, Samuel Reimarus (d. 1768), author of the “Apology for the Reasonable Worshippers of God.” In the “Fragments of an Unknown” (1774) tolerance for the Deists is inculcated; in the following publication (1777) revelation in general is attacked, and it is shown especially that there is no religion in the Old Testament; finally, the third part of the fragments is directed against Jesus and his apostles (1778), contending that Jesus mainly intended to restore the theocracy; that John the Baptist was his accomplice; that the Temple was violated on the first Palm Sunday; that Jesus died amid loud complaints and moanings, and that the apostles feigned the resurrection. The founders of the Christian religion are thus represented as so many deceivers.

δ. IN GERMANY, continued.—The first opponent of Lessing was Götze. His apology for Christianity excited, however, more amusement than conviction. The inspiration of scripture, he thought, must be denied, all miracles rejected. Semler (Dec. 18, 1725–March 14, 1791) was a more logical writer. Still, explaining the life of Jesus as a mere accommodation to the surrounding circumstances he may, perhaps, defend Jesus against the charge of wilful deceit, but cannot grant him a higher position than that of a teacher of religion and morality. Paulus (Sept. 1, 1761–Aug. 10, 1851) went a step farther. In his Leben Jesu (1828) he explains the miraculous in the gospels as resulting from the subjective impressions of the evangelists. Illustrating his view, he appeals to the different impression produced on three different observers by the same natural phenomenon,—e.g., the Cartesian diver. The physicist sees in it the application of a general natural law, the educated man admires it as a wonder of nature, but the simple workingman feels like reverencing the same fact as a miracle transcending all the powers of nature. The apostles and evangelists were similarly impressed by Jesus’ words and works. Here, again, Christ’s divine character is sacrificed for the sake of a scientific hypothesis. Thus far the would-be apologists of Christian revelation have tried to guard the historical character of the gospels. Strauss (Jan. 27, 1808–Feb. 9, 1871) did not leave even the historical character of truthfulness to the gospel-records. In his “Leben Jesu” (1835, 1864, 1874) the life of Christ is explained as a gathering of pious myths, even as there are mythical personages in nearly every nation and literature. We hardly need to add Baur’s system (Sept. 6, 1809–April 13, 1882), according to which the New Testament records are the expressions of two different ecclesiastical parties, the Petrine and the Pauline, and of a third party endeavoring to reconcile the two.

є. THE RATIONALISTS’ HISTORICAL METHOD.—It is natural that, in the history of the prophetic interpretation, we should have touched on the literature of the life of Christ. For, since type and antitype, prediction and fulfilment, are essentially correlative terms, the view taken of the one necessarily influences the interpretation of the other. Consequently, we find a series of writers who carry out the rationalistic view of prophecy according to a historical method. As representatives of this school we may mention Staehelin (Messianische Weissagungen, Berlin, 1847), Anger (Posthumous lectures “Über die Geschichte der Messianischen Idee,” edited by Krenkel, Berlin, 1873), Hitzig (d. 1875; “Vorlesungen über biblische Theologie und Messianische Weissagung des Alten Testaments,” edited by Kneucher, Karlsruhe, 1880), and above all Kuenen (The Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, London, 1877). The latter dismisses, on principle, all that is supernatural, and regards ethical monotheism as the kernel and the soul of all prophecy. Duhm (Theologie der Propheten, Bonn, 1875) starts with the hypothesis that the Old Testament literary prophets belong to an earlier age than the Mosaic Law, and that in the writing of every prophet there is a special system of teaching by means of which he hinders or helps the progress to greater freedom in religious matters. Duhm thus combines Wellhausen’s theory of the Old Testament literature with Baur’s typical principle applied in the New Testament.

ζ. CHRISTIAN APOLOGIES.—Hengstenberg’s (d. 1869) “Christologie des Alten Testaments” (Berlin, 1829–1835, 3 vols.; 2d ed. 1854–1857) formed a new epoch in the treatment of the Messianic prophecies from a Christian point of view. Cunningham in his “Remarks” had defended the Christian standpoint against the Jewish view set forth in David Levi’s “Dissertations on the Prophecies in the Old Testament” (1793–1796, London; cf. Salvador, Histoire des institutions de Moïse et du peuple hébreu, Paris, 1828). But Hengstenberg defended Christianity against the latest attacks of critical rationalism. Hofmann’s (d. 1877) work entitled “Weissagung und Erfüllung” (Nördlingen, 1841–1844, in two parts) is a proper companion piece to Hengstenberg’s Christology. The work reconstructs the entire Old Testament account historically and exegetically as an organic whole. Bertheau in his lengthy article “Die alttestamentliche Weissagung von Israel’s Reichsherrlichkeit in seinem Lande” (Jahrbücher für deutsche Theologie, vol. iv., Gotha, 1859) endeavors to separate the present idea of the fulfilment from the particular national form. Hilgenfeld (Die Jüdische Apokalyptik in ihrer geschichtlichen Entwickelung, 1857) reviews the development of the Messianic idea among the Jewish people. Reinke’s “Messianische Weissagungen bei den grossen und kleinen Propheten des alten Testaments” (Münster, 1859) is a classical Catholic treatise on the subject. Meignan’s “Les prophéties messianiques de l’Ancien Testament” (Paris, 1856), de la Luzerne’s “Dissertations sur les Prophéties,” de Pompignan’s “l’Incrédulité convaincue par les Prophéties,” Jacquelot’s “Traite de la vérité et de l’inspiration de l’Ancien et du Nouveau Testament” deserve careful attention.

η. LESS CONSERVATIVE APOLOGIES.—Tholuck (d. 1877), in his “Propheten und ihre Weissagungen” (Gotha, 1860), and Gustav Baur in his “Geschichte der alt testamentlichen Weissagung” (Theil 1, 1861), follow Hengstenberg, only in a spirit of freer criticism. Öhler (d. 1872) in his articles “Messias” and “Weissagung” (Herzog’s R. E., 1st ed., vol. ix. Stuttgart, 1858; vol. xvii. Gotha, 1863), and in his posthumous “Theology of the Old Testament” (1st ed., Tübingen 1873–1874; 2d ed., 1882–1885), has tried a compromise between conservatism and headlong rationalism. Diestel’s “Geschichte des alten Testaments in der christlichen Kirche” (Jena, 1869), Küper’s “Das Prophetenthum des alten Bundes übersichtlich dargestellt” (Leipzig, 1870), and Castelli’s “Ill Messia secondo gli Ebrei” (Florence, 1784), must be mentioned at this period. Riehm (d. 1888), in his work “Die Messianische Weissagung” (Gotha, 1875; English translation by L. A. Muirhead, Edinburgh, 1891), inquires into the origin, the historical character, and the fulfilment of prophecy, but fails to do justice to the literal meaning of the several predictions. Drummond (The Jewish Messiah, 1877) is still perhaps the main English authority on his own view of this subject; Gloag (The Messianic Prophecies, Baird Lecture for 1879), deserves a careful reading. Eduard König’s work, “Der Offenbarungsbegriff des alten Testaments” (Leipzig, 1882), defends the supernatural character of the Old Testament prophecy. We must not omit A. Edersheim’s reprint of his Warburton Lectures for the years 1880–1884, which he collected in a volume entitled “Prophecy and History in Relation to the Messiah” (New York, 1885). Here is the place to mention Orelli’s Old Testament Prophecy of the Consummation of God’s Kingdom (Clark’s translation), Stanton’s “The Jewish and Christian Messiah, a study in the earliest history of Christianity,” Scott’s “Historical Development of the Messianic Idea” (Old Testament Student, 1888, 176–180), and Reinhard’s “Der Welterlöser im alten Testament” (1888). Brigg’s “Messianic Prophecy” aims at complete exegetical treatment of Messianic passages (Edinburgh and New York, 1886). C. Elliott’s “Old Testament Prophecy” (New York, 1889) professes to explain the nature of prophecy, its organic connection with Old Testament history, and its New Testament fulfilment. Delitzsch published his “Messianische Weissagungen in geschichtlicher Folge” at Leipzig (Faber, 1890); the work is translated into English by Prof. Curtis (New York, 1891). Baldensperger’s “Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Lichte der Messianischen Hoffnungen seiner Zeit” (Strassburg, 1888; 2d ed., Strassburg, 1892) deserves also a careful study, though, like most works of Protestant authors, it is tainted with several rationalistic ideas.

ϑ. WORKS WHICH DEAL PARTIALLY WITH THE PROPHECIES.—We might extend this list of authors indefinitely were we to enumerate all the works which deal in part with our subject, or with some aspect of it. Still, a few must be noticed here on account of their importance and the frequent use we shall have to make of them. Such are: Düsterwald’s “Die Weltreiche und das Gottesreich nach den Weissagungen des Propheten Daniel” (Freiburg, 1890); Edersheim’s “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” book ii., c. v.; Schürer’s “Geschichte des Jüdischen Volkes im Zeitalter Jesu” (Engl. transl. Edinburgh, 1890); and Keim’s “Life of Jesus of Nazara” (Engl. transl. vol. i. pp. 314–327; vol. iv. pp. 256–343, vol. vi. pp. 384 to end). Nearly complete bibliographical lists will be found in several of the works already referred to.

2. DIALECTIC FORM OF THE PROPHECY-ARGUMENT.—Thus far we have considered the history of the Christian argument from prophecy; we must next state the argument itself in its strict dialectic form. It may be worded as follows: God cannot testify to what is false. But God has by means of the Messianic prophecies testified to the divinity and the divine mission of Jesus. Consequently Jesus had a divine mission and nature (Diction. de la théolog. cath. de Wetzer et Welte, trad. franc. de Goschler. t. xix. pp. 201 ff.; Perrone, Praelect. theologicæ, éd. Migne, t. i. col. 74 f.).

Without insisting for the present on the further conclusion that the Christian religion and revelation are of a divine origin and necessarily truthful, we turn our attention to the force of the argument itself. If the premises are correct, the conclusion follows beyond all reasonable doubt. The first two statements then deserve a more minute examination.

a. Major Premise.—In the first, or the major, premise our attention is drawn to the conditions which are necessarily presupposed in the prophecy argument. The existence of God, his essential attributes, and the first principles of morality are supposed to be known by the light of reason. A number of recent writers have stated this fact very clearly and forcibly. Mill says in his Logic (ii. p. 168): “If we do not already believe in supernatural agencies, no miracle can prove to us their existence. The miracle itself, considered merely as an extraordinary fact, may be satisfactorily certified by our senses or by testimony, but nothing can ever prove that it is a miracle; there is still another possible hypothesis—that of its being the result of some unknown natural cause; and this possibility cannot be so completely shut out as to leave no alternative but that of admitting the existence and intervention of a being superior to nature.” Paley, in his Introduction to the “Evidences,” uses the following expression: “The effect we ascribe simply to the volition of the Deity, of whose existence and power, not to say of whose presence and agency, we have previous and independent proof.… In a word, once believe that there is a God, and miracles are not incredible.” Mozley again and again repeats this same truth in his Lectures on Miracles: “Unless a man brings the belief in God to a miracle,” he says in the fifth lecture, “he does not get it from the miracle.” Prof. W. Lee, in his Essay on Miracles, substantially agrees with the above authors: “The Christian argument for miracles takes for granted two elementary truths—the omnipotence and the personality of God.” The Rev. L. Davies, in his “Signs of the Kingdom of Heaven” (p. 35) maintains: “The miracle of miracles must be the existence of a living God. If we do not believe this, it is impossible that any smaller miracles should prove it to us.” We may conclude with the words of Westcott, taken from his Gospel of the Resurrection (p. 45): “For physical students as such, and for those who take their impressions of the universe solely from them, miracles can have no real existence.”

It must be kept in mind all through that we do not mean to say that God’s existence might not be proved from a miraculous fact, viewed as a contingent or as a changeable being; but we merely contend that the recognition of a miracle as such presupposes the acknowledgment of a personal God. And the existence of God once granted, it is easily shown that he cannot testify to a falsehood.

b. Minor Premise.—The second or minor premise of our prophecy-argument calls for a more lengthy explanation. It maintains that God by means of the Messianic prophecies has testified to the divinity and the divine mission of Jesus. Three distinct statements are evidently contained in this sentence: (1) There have been real Messianic predictions; (2) these Messianic predictions are true prophecies; (3) they were employed by God in confirmation of Jesus’s divine mission and nature.

α. HISTORICAL TRUTH OF THE PROPHECIES.—The main difficulties urged against the existence of real Messianic predictions may be reduced to two heads: (a) Christians may have read into the Old Testament predictions which were not really contained in it; (b) Christians may have inserted into the life of Christ fulfilments which have no existence in history. The second exception is equivalent to a denial of the authenticity and truthfulness of the gospel records, facts proved in the introduction to the New Testament canon. Additional data for answering the difficulty will be found among the apocalyptic and the Rabbinic productions, which we shall have to refer to in answering the first exception.

1. The Old Testament Books precede the New Testament.—Supposing then the New Testament canon established, and therefore the facts of Christ’s life proved, we must show that the Old Testament prophecies of the Messias cannot be Christian fiction. This will appear in the first place all through the course of Messianic prophecies, since they will be recognized as genuine part and parcel of the several Old Testament books, whose canonicity is proved beyond all reasonable doubt. For even supposing that the date of some parts of the Old Testament is much more recent than has been believed, a supposition which we make only for argument’s sake, it is still certain that the literature in question originated before the birth of Christ, so that our statement regarding the existence of Messianic predictions remains in force.

2. Sibylline Oracles.—But since it is considered incumbent on the scientific theologian of our day to prove his thesis not merely from scriptural but also from profane sources, if such a proof is possible, we too shall indicate certain early books and writings, though partly fragmentary, which bear evidence to the existence of Messianic predictions before and at the time of the birth of Jesus. Here belongs, in the first place, the greatest part of the third book (v. 97–807) of the Sibylline oracles, because after Bleek’s time most critics maintain that they have been written by a Greek-Alexandrian Jew, and constitute the most ancient part of the whole collection. Reuss (Herzog’s R. E. p. 184 ff., article Sibyllen) and Hilgenfeld contend that they were written about 137, and others place them later still. But for our purpose the exact year of their composition is a matter of indifference. It must be noted that the value of this source is somewhat lessened, because it is not universally admitted that before the time of Christ the Alexandrian schools exercised a great influence on the Palestinian.

3. Book of Enoch.—Of the greatest importance in the present question is the Book of Enoch. It purports to have been written by the patriarch Enoch, and is quoted in the Epistle of Jude (14, 15). Though several Fathers use it as the genuine production of its reputed author, and as containing authentic divine revelations, it has never been recognized by the Church as canonical (cf. article Enoch in Smith’s Bible Dictionary). The Byzantine chronicler George Syncellus (about 800 A.D.) still quotes two long passages from the book; after that period it is lost sight of, till in the course of the last century the discovery was made that an Ethiopic version was extant in the Abyssinian Church. In the year 1773, Bruce, the Scottish traveller, brought three manuscripts of it to Europe. But it was not till the year 1821 that the whole work was given to the world through the English translation of Laurence. A German translation was made by Hofmann, which from chapter i to lv is based upon the English version of Laurence (1833), and from chapter lvi to the end on the Ethiopic version collated with a new manuscript (1838). The Ethiopic text was published by Laurence in 1838, and subsequently by Dillmann in 1851; the latter has been collated with five manuscripts. Dillmann also issued a new German translation in 1853 with emendations so important that all disquisitions connected with the Book of Enoch have been based on it. The hope that new light would be thrown on the subject by a small Greek fragment (lxxxix. 42–49) published in facsimile by Card. Mai from a Cod. Vatic. (cod. gr. 1809) and deciphered by Gildmeister, was doomed to disappointment, since the Codex contained nothing more of the Book of Enoch. New Greek Enoch fragments were discovered in the winter of 1886–87, in the Christian burial city of Akhmim, in Upper Egypt. They were published in the Mémoires publiés par les membres de la mission archéologique française an Cairo sous la direction de M. N. Bouriant (tome ixme Ier fascicule; Paris, Ernest Leroux, 1892; II. 147, lexicon size).

a. Division of the Book of Enoch.—The book may be divided into the following parts: 1. Chapters i–v contain the introduction to the whole. 2. Chapters vi–ix give an account of the fall of the angels. 3. Chapters xii–xvi tell how Enoch is commissioned to announce to the angels the coming judgment. 4. Chapters xvii–xxxvi describe how Enoch is carried over mountains, seas, and rivers, and how he was shown the mysteries of nature, the ends of the earth, the place of the fallen spirits, the dwellings of the departed souls, both just and unjust, the tree of life, etc. 5. Chapters xxxvii–lxxi contain three allegories. a. The first allegory, embracing chapters xxxvii–xliv, describes Enoch’s vision of the abode of the righteous and the saints; Enoch also sees the myriads of spirits standing before the throne of the Most High, the four angels Michael, Raphael, Gabriel and Phanuel, the receptacles wherein the sun, the moon, and the winds are kept, the lightning and the stars of heaven, all of which have their own special name. b. In the second allegory, containing chapters xlv–lvii, Enoch is informed regarding the “Chosen One,” “the Son of Man”—i.e., the Messias. The patriarch learns the Messias’ nature and mission, and how he is to judge the world and establish his kingdom. c. The third allegory, consisting of chapters lviii–lxix, treats of the blessedness of the righteous and the just, of the mysteries of thunder and lightning, of the day on which the “Chosen One,” “the Son of Man,” shall judge the world. d. Chapters lxx and lxxi contain the conclusion of the three allegories. 6. Chapters lxxii–lxxxii form the astronomical book, giving us all the astronomical information Enoch had obtained from the angel Uriel. 7. Chapters lxxxiii–xc contain two visions: a. Chapters lxxxiii and lxxxiv describe the vision of the flood, where Enoch prays God not to destroy the whole human family. b. Chapters lxxxv–xc narrate the vision of the cattle, sheep, wild beasts, and shepherds, symbolizing the whole history of Israel down to the Messianic times. 8. In chapter xci Enoch exhorts his children to lead a pious life. 9. Chapter xcii forms the introduction to the next section. 10. In chapters xciii and xciv. 12–17 Enoch enlightens us concerning the world-weeks. 11. Chapters xciv–civ contain woes against the wicked and the ungodly, and hold out joyful expectations to the just. 12. Chapters cvi and cvii describe the birth of Noe and predict the flood. 13. Chapter cviii informs us regarding the fire of hell, to which the souls of the wicked and the blaspheming are consigned.

b. Author of the Book of Enoch.—A few words must be added about the author of the book of Enoch and the probable time of its composition. 1. J. C. K. von Hofmann, Weisse, and Philippi contend, chiefly for dogmatic reasons, that the whole book is of Christian origin. There is scarcely any recent author who believes the work to belong to one author. 2. Even Dillmann, who in his translation and explanation still assumed a substantial unity of authorship, has now abandoned his position, in spite of Wittichen’s almost entire agreement with his opinion. 3. In the case of the allegories especially, it is now almost universally admitted that they must be ascribed to an author distinct from the writer of the other portions (Krieger, Lücke, 2d ed., Ewald, Dillmann latterly, Köstlin, Hilgenfeld, Langen, Sieffert, Reuss, Volkmar).

c. Time of Composition of the Book of Enoch.—In order to determine the period of its composition, we shall divide the book into the sections ascribed to the same authors:

A. The original writing consists of chapters i–xxxvi and lxxxii–cv, abstracting from a number of more or less extensive interpolations. Volkmar ascribes it to one of Akiba’s disciples in the time of Barcocheba. But most authors agree in assigning this portion to the second century B.C., either to the earlier years of the Machabean period (Krieger, Lücke, 2d. ed., Langen), or to the days of John Hyrcanus (Ewald, Dillmann, Köstlin, Sieffert, Reuss, Wittichen), or even to the days of Alexander Jannæus (Hilgenfeld).

B. In regard to the most important section containing the allegories, chapters xxxvi–lxxi, opinion fluctuates most of all. Here Hilgenfeld, Volkmar, and Colani agree with Hofmann, Weisse, and Philippi in ascribing this part to a Christian author. Hilgenfeld even believes that the writer must have been of the Gnostic sect. The other critics refer the same portion to a pre-Christian period: Langen to the earlier days of the Machabean time; Ewald to about 144 B.C.; Köstlin, Sieffert, and Dillmann (Herzog’s R. E., 2d ed., 12:351 ff.) to some date previous to 64 B.C.; Krieger and Lücke to the early part of Herod’s reign; Reuss refrains from suggesting any date at all.

But the main question is: Are the allegories of pre-Christian or of Christian origin? If they date from Christian times, the author must be a Christian. A Jew could not have written the allegories, knowing that he was giving weapons into the hands of the Christians. But, on the other hand, a Christian writer would have hardly avoided so carefully all allusion to the history of Jesus. Why should a Christian speak only of the coming of the Messias in glory, of his judging the world, without the slightest indication of his first appearance in a state of humiliation and suffering? Surely, this was not an efficient method of gaining souls over to the religion of Christ. The argument of our opponents, based upon the circumstance that according to Matthew 16:13–16 and John 12:34, the expression “Son of Man” was not a common Messianic title at the time of Jesus, whereas it is of frequent occurrence in this sense in the allegories, is without force. For we are by no means at liberty to infer from those passages that the expression “Son of Man” was not at that time a usual Messianic title. In the case of John (1. c.), this inference is based simply upon false exegesis. The passage in Matthew is much weakened by the circumstance that in another form preserved in Mark 8:27, which is parallel to Luke 9:18, the expression “Son of Man” does not occur at all (cf. Edersheim, “The Life and Times of Jesus the Messiah,” ii. p. 80, 5th ed., New York).

C. The Noachian portions of the book of Enoch have been sufficiently proved by the investigations of Dillmann, Ewald and Köstlin to be identical with the passages liv. 7–lv. 2, lx. 65–lxix. 25; lxviii. 1, and probably also with chapters cvi, cvii, and cviii. These portions are called Noachian, partly because they treat of Noe’s time, and partly because they purport to have been written by him. It is impossible to determine the exact date at which these passages were composed. Since our present Ethiopic version of the book of Enoch has been made from the Greek, it may be asked whether it was originally written in Greek, or rather in Hebrew or Aramaic. Volkmar and Philippi contend that the original language was Greek, while all the other scholars assume the Hebrew or the Aramaic as the original language. (Cf. Schürer, “History of the Jewish People in the Time of Jesus Christ,” d. ii. v. iii. p. 54 ff.; Baldensperger, Das Selbstbewusstsein Jesu im Lichte der Messianischen Hoffnungen seiner Zeit, 2d ed., 1892.)

4. The Book of Jubilees.—Didymus Alexandrinus, Epiphanius, and St. Jerome quote an apocryphal book under the title Ἰωβηλαῖα, or ἡ λεπτὴ Γένεσις, from which they borrow various details connected with the history of the patriarchs. Copious extracts from the same work are given by the Byzantine chroniclers Syncellus, Cedrenus, Zonoras, Glycas, from the beginning of the ninth down to the twelfth century. After the twelfth century the book disappeared from notice, and it was considered as lost till it was in the present century discovered in an Ethiopic version in the Abyssinian Church. Dillmann published it for the first time in a German translation (1850–1851), and afterwards in its Ethiopic version (1859). Ceriani found in the Ambrosian Library at Milan a large fragment of the work in an old Latin version, which he published in the “Monumenta sacra et profana” (vol. i. fasc. i., 1861). Subsequently Rönsch edited the same fragment accompanied by Dillmann’s Latin rendering of the corresponding Ethiopic portion of the work, by a commentary and several “Excursus” full of most valuable material (1874). As to the date of the work’s composition, Dillmann, Hilgenfeld, Langen, Holtzmann, and Schürer assign it to the first century A.D., before the time of the destruction of Jerusalem. Nöldeke refers the work to the last century before Christ; Rönsch to the sixth decade B.C. It is not so much the Messianic erudition contained in the work that interests us as its direct testimony for the existence of the book of Enoch, and the light it throws on the pious Jewish view of the world at the beginning of the Christian era (Baldensperger, l. c., pp. 20 ff.; Schürer, l. c., pp. 134 ff.).

5. The Psalms of Solomon.—In several Christian Old Testament canons the Psalms of Solomon are included at times under the heading “Antilegomena,” and again under that of “Apokrypha.” These psalms, amounting to eighteen in number, were first printed from an Augsburg manuscript by de la Cerda (1626), and subsequently by Fabricius (1713), while in our own time Hilgenfeld has published an edition, collated with a Vienna manuscript, and this has been made the basis of the editions issued by Geiger, Fritzsche, and Pick. The principal subject of the psalms is the misery of the Jewish nation, and its desire of freedom and redemption through the mediation of the Messias. It is only by later transcribers that they have been attributed to Solomon. The work itself betrays, according to the critics, very distinct traces of a later origin. Ewald, Grimm, Öhler, Dillmann (formerly), Weiffenbach, and Anger assign the psalms to the time of Antiochus Epiphanes; Movers, Delitzsch, and Keim prefer the time of Herod; but Langen, Hilgenfeld, Geiger, Carrière, Wellhausen, Reuss, Dillmann (now), Nöldeke, Hausrath, Fritzsche, and Wittichen agree with most others that the origin of the psalms must be placed after Pompey’s conquest of Jerusalem, about the year 63 B.C. (cf. Schürer, l. c. pp. 17 ff.; Cornely, Introductio in U. T., vol. i. p. 205; Baldensperger, l. c. pp. 25 ff.).

6. The “Ascensio Mosis.”—According to a passage in Origen (De princip. iii. 2. 1) the fact referred to in the epistle of Jude (v. 9) regarding a dispute between the archangel Michael and Satan about the body of Moses has been taken from an apocryphal book entitled the “Ascensio Mosis”. Some little information regarding this Ἀνάληπσις Μωυσέως has also been gleaned from quotations found in the Fathers and in subsequent writers. But a large portion of the work in an old Latin version was only recently discovered by Ceriani in the Ambrosian Library at Milan, where it had been concealed for ages, and published by the same scholar in the Monumenta (1861). The work has since then been edited by Hilgenfeld (1866), Volkmar (in Latin and German, 1867), Schmidt and Merx (1868), and Fritzsche (1871). The critics differ considerably about the date of its composition: Ewald, Wieseler, Drummond, and Dillmann refer it to the first decade after Herod’s death, Hilgenfeld to the year 44–45 A.D., Schmidt and Merx to the time between 54 and 64 A.D., Fritzsche and Lucius to the sixth decade of the first century A.D., Langen to the time after the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus, Hausrath to the reign of Domitian, Philippi to the second century of our era, Volkmar to the year 137–138 A.D., while Schürer agrees with Ewald and those who adhere to his opinion. The peculiar Messianic ideas of the “Ascensio” will appear clearly throughout the course of this work (cf. Schürer, l. c., pp. 73 ff.; Cornely, l. c., p. 209; Baldensperger, l. c., pp. 27 ff.).

7. The Revelation of Baruch.—The larger Peshito manuscript of Milan contains also a revelation of Baruch, regarding which there exists no reliable information. A small portion of it, chapters lxxviii–lxxxvi, has been otherwise transmitted to us, and is printed in the Paris and the London Polyglots. Ceriani first published a Latin version of the book (1866), and subsequently published the Syriac text, first in ordinary type (1871), then in a photolithographed facsimile (1883). Fritzsche embodied Ceriani’s Latin version in his edition of the Apocrypha, introducing however a few emendations (1871). The prediction of the Anointed is very clear and precise. As to the date of the composition of the book it seems to be certain that it was not written before the destruction of Jerusalem by Titus; but it is impossible to determine whether it was written shortly after the destruction (Hilgenfeld, Fritzsche, Drummond), or during the reign of Domitian (Ewald), or in the time of Trajan (Langen, Wieseler, Renan, Dillmann). Schürer thinks it most probable that the book was composed not long after the destruction of the Holy City, when the question, How could God permit such a disaster? was still a burning one, and in his opinion the work is, at any rate, older than the time of Papias (cf. Schürer, l. c., pp. 83 ff.; Baldensperger, l. c., pp. 37 ff.).

8. The Fourth Book of Esdras.—In the appendix of the Latin Vulgate we find among other apocryphal works the so-called Fourth Book of Esdras. Several Greek and Latin Fathers regard the work as genuine prophecy. The fact that it has been translated into Syriac, Ethiopic, Arabic, and Armenian proves its extensive circulation in the East. All the five versions which we now possess are directly or indirectly taken from a Greek text, now no longer extant, but which must be regarded as the original text. The text of the Latin Vulgate consists of sixteen chapters, the first and the last two of which do not appear in the oriental versions, and are, therefore commonly looked upon as additions by a Christian hand. In its original form, then, the book consists only of chapters 3–14. The coming of the Anointed One is clearly foretold in 7:26–35. Corrodi and Ewald refer the composition of the book to the time of Titus; Volkmar, Langen, Hausrath and Renan to the time of Nerva; Gfrörer, Dillmann, Wieseler, Reuse, and Schürer to the reign of Domitian. Kabisch (Das 4te. Buch Esra, 1889) has of late made an earnest attempt to divide the book according to its various sources, one of which he refers to 100 A.D., the other to 30 B.C. But Baldensperger justly rejects Kabisch’s analysis (Baldensperger, l. c., p. 38; Schürer, l. c., pp. 93 ff.; Edersheim, “Jesus the Messiah,” vol. ii. pp. 655 ff.).

9. Talmudic and Rabbinic Sources.—A word must be added about the vast source-material aggregated in the Talmud and the various Midrashim. Though we must not overestimate the value of these sources, we cannot on the other hand simply ignore them. Too many efforts have of late been made in cultivating this field, which had so long remained fallow, to admit of entire silence about them. Wellhausen’s remark that the Talmud is only of secondary importance as a source for the historical condition of the pre-Talmudic Jewish people is no doubt correct; but far different is the judgment that must be pronounced about the ideas contained in the Talmud. For most of the views expressed by the Talmudic writers date back to the time of Christ, or even to an earlier period. If we then apply ourselves with proper care to these writings, we shall be able to gather from them a great amount of reliable material (cf. Baldensperger, l. c., pp. 43 ff.; Edersheim, l. c. vol. ii. pp. 659 ff.; Appendix 1 of the present vol.).

Review of the Historical Truth of the Prophecies.—Thus far we have given the sources from which it may be proved that there really existed Messianic predictions. Our opponents were those who contend that the predictions which we now consider as Messianic prophecies were applied to Jesus in a false and artificial sense, without really referring to him. Thus Christians are accused of manufacturing prophecies by reading into the Old Testament meanings that do not really exist in it. Greg in his “Creed of Christendom” (3d ed., p. 85) expresses the difficulty thus: “The argument would have the force which is attributed to it, were the objectors able to lay their finger on a single Old Testament prediction clearly referring to Jesus Christ, intended by the utterers of it to relate to him, prefiguring his character and career, and manifestly fulfilled in his appearance on earth. This they cannot do.” Dr. Davidson pronounces it as “now commonly admitted that the essential part of biblical prophecy does not lie in predicting contingent events, but in divining the essentially religious in the course of history.… In no prophecy can it be shown that the literal predicting of distant historical events is contained.… In conformity with the analogy of prophecy generally, special predictions concerning Christ do not appear in the Old Testament” (cf. Smith, “Dictionary of the Bible,” ii. p. 932, note i.).

β. PHILOSOPHICAL TRUTH OF THE PROPHECIES.—Properly explained, Greg’s and Davidson’s observations may be understood to impugn the second statement implied in the minor premise of our argument—i.e., the contention that the Messianic predictions which existed before the time of Jesus are real prophecies. It is true that in order to have a real prophecy certain conditions must be verified regarding both prediction and fulfilment. The prediction must precede the event in time, be intelligible and definite in its terms, and foretell something which at the time of its utterance lay beyond the ability of merely human sagacity to foresee. As to the fulfilment, it must be a historically certain event, undoubtedly posterior to the prediction, and accurately correspond with it in terms. It must also be above the suspicion of having been brought about by human means for the purpose of forming an apparent accomplishment of the prediction. These are the essential conditions without the verification of which no real prophecy exists. They may be strengthened by the following accidental notes: The prediction may be part of a connected system of prophecies, it may describe the special coloring and the detailed particulars of the event, and it may finally have a special supernatural purpose rendering it antecedently probable that God is its author.

1. Definiteness of the Predictions.—The priority of Messianic prediction to fulfilment has been established in the preceding paragraphs. As to the definite meaning conveyed by the Messianic prophecies, the Old Testament leaves us no ground to call it in question. We need only glance over the description of the Messias, his nature, properties, and mission, as laid down in the writings of the prophets, to be convinced of the wrong position of those scholars who refuse to admit the prophecy-argument for this reason. Nor can it be said that the fulfilment of the Messianic predictions was brought about by human means, so as to render the existing predictions apparent grounds for Jesus’ real Messiasship. For by human means no one can predetermine the place and the circumstances of his birth, by merely human means no one works miracles, heals the sick, raises the dead, and feeds thousands of people with five loaves of bread; for merely natural ends no one gives himself up to be scourged, to be condemned to death, and to die on the cross; and, finally, by no human means can any one rise from the dead and ascend into heaven.

2. Agreement between Prediction and Fulfilment.—As to the exact correspondence of fulfilment and predictions, we must content ourselves for the present with pointing to the treatise on the particular prophecies, where it will appear that a more minute and accurate description of certain portions of Christ’s life could have hardly been given by an eye-witness (cf. Rev. B. Maitland, “The Argument from Prophecy,” 2d ed., London, 1886, pp. 31 ff.). And the supposition that all these particulars should have been foretold by merely human sagacity is so improbable that it has not been suggested even by the most bitter enemies of the Christian revelation (cf. Kuenen’s view as explained in The New World, March 1892, p. 816; see pp. 43 ff. of the present vol.).

3. Three Exceptions.—Waiving for the present the other exceptions which are at times made to this part of the argument (St. Thom., Summ. Theol., II.a ii.ae q. 172; Libermann, Theologia; Nicolas, Études philos. sur le Christianisme; Passaglia, Conférences, pp. 165 ff.; Brugère, De vera religione; La Luzerne, Dissertation sur les prophéties, Paris, 1825, t. 1), we must consider three that can hardly be answered in the course of the treatise. Certain authors, then, impugn the principle that from the fact of an event being predicted it can be inferred that we have to deal with a true prophecy—or, in other words, that God has inspired the utterer of the prediction in question. There are at least three other ways in which such a fact can be explained. First, the supposed prophet may have foretold the future by mere chance; secondly, the prediction may have been suggested by an evil spirit; thirdly, it may be a merely natural phenomenon.

a. First Exception.—The first explanation is rendered still more probable by our experiencing in excitable persons a remarkable spirit of mysterious presentiment. And if external circumstances, be they motives of self-love or of patriotism, inflame in such a person an ardent desire of a certain event, what wonder that he utters predictions of what he most ardently wishes for?

Answer.—We do not deny the possibility of any one’s foretelling by mere chance an entirely unexpected event which afterwards really comes to pass. Nor do we deny the greater probability of such a prediction when the event is ardently desired. But if the predictions include a number of the most minute particulars that are not at all necessarily connected with the event, the probability of a prediction by mere chance becomes very small. And again, if many of the particulars are in themselves very unlikely to happen, and go entirely against the prophet’s natural desires, a mere chance prediction of such an event with all its details has no claim to any probability at all. And finally, if the details are not only unwished for, but bring misfortune on the prophet’s family and nation, make reprobates of all the prophet’s friends and acquaintances, if the details regard not only a single event but a series of events, in fact a man’s whole lifetime, and the failure and success of his life-work, if there is question not of a single prophet but of a series of different prophets living more or less at random at the various epochs of a whole millennium, and still predicting the incidents of a man’s life in such a way that all the prophecies are fully consistent with each other and form one organic whole,—supposing all this, the explanation by mere chance is not only intrinsically improbable, but implies a greater miracle than is needed in the explanation by inspiration. We may as well say that Apollo of Belvedere has been constructed out of the marble chips that fell from the works of the different statuaries who lived a thousand years before Apollo was chiselled, and that by mere chance all the single chips fitted so well into each other that nothing was redundant, nothing wanting, as maintain that the Messianic predictions are the outcome of mere chance. For it must be remembered that, considered from a merely natural standpoint, the prophets represent all possible conditions of life and of mental culture. A mere collusion of the inspired Messianic writers is, therefore, simply out of the question (cf. Rev. B. Maitland, “The Argument from Prophecy,” 2d ed., London, 1878, pp. 24 ff.).

b. Second Exception answered.—As to the exception that an evil spirit may have been the inspiring agent, those who take umbrage in this expedient can no longer disbelieve in God and revelation. For without admitting revelation we have no right to explain facts by other facts which suppose revelation, or, at least, the knowledge of which cannot be obtained without revelation. But, as we well know, the existence of spiritual beings cannot be certainly known without the aid of revelation. Again, those who really believe in revelation cannot explain the Messianic predictions as the mere work of evil spirits, because in this way they destroy their first and only reliable criterion of revelation, the objective truth of miracles and prophecies. For it is only by these that divine revelation may be recognized as such. And these being rendered void, no one has a right to suppose the existence of revelation, as our opponents are obliged to do in their explanation of the Messianic predictions. Hence, in brief, those who have recourse to the inspiration of spirits either admit the existence of revelation or they do not. If they do not admit revelation, they do not know the existence of spirits. If they admit revelation, they must logically admit that by which alone revelation can be known—prophecy and miracle. The case of these adversaries in theology is similar to that of the sceptics in philosophy. Their position supposes a truth which they either openly deny or admit without proof.

c. Third Exception. M. Nicolas.—The third class of opponents, explaining the prophetic predictions as merely natural phenomena, consists mainly of rationalists. This school refuses to see in the prophetic phenomena anything beyond merely natural facts, perfectly analogous to those that occur in pagan history. M. Michel Nicolas (Études critiques sur la Bible, Ancien Testament, Paris, 1862; Du prophétism hébreu, p. 306) maintains: “The prophet presents himself with the same characteristics and under analogous traits amid the pagan nations and in the midst of the Hebrews; and the narratives which the latter have left us concerning the life and the preaching of their prophets offer striking resemblances with the stories of the former concerning their soothsayers.” Two pages further on, the same author continues: “Among the Hebrews as well as among the pagans, prophecy was always accompanied by a violent excitement of the imagination. Prophecy is inseparable from poetry among both Hebrews and Gentiles.” Still a few pages further on, we read: “The art of medicine and the art of soothsaying were in ancient times attributed to their prophets by the heathen nations and the descendants of Israel alike.” On page 319 of the same work prophetism is said to have existed among the Hebrews, especially at that period “which one may call, in the language of Vico, the heroic age of the house of Jacob. Prophetism ceases when that family, carried along by the general destiny of the nations, after its return from the Babylonian captivity enters into what may be called its human age, or into its historic period properly so called.” Finally (p. 321), the author concludes: “One is reduced to a general historical law; the people of Israel is no exception in the midst of the other nations, and Hebrew prophetism enters into the analogy of history.”

α. Ewald’s View.—Ewald believes that naturally God calls every one to know him and to share his divine life. If man is faithful to this call, he rises from truth to truth, becomes God’s friend, and partakes of his divine activity. Still, this divine life differs in different men and according to different historical periods. But, in any case, this life is nothing but our natural life brought to its perfection. In a period of special spiritual excitement and elevation it may come to pass that a thought, conceived under divine influence, takes such a hold of man’s soul that the latter takes it no longer for its own thought, but for God’s inspiration. And since man thinks not only of himself, but also of his country and his friends, he conceives also projects and plans of benefiting his friends and saving his country. If now one of these supposed divine inspirations enters a man’s soul, he cannot rest quiet till he has proclaimed his idea for the benefit of the world. Thus one becomes a prophet. The prophet sincerely believes he hears the powerful voice of the Most High; he can hear nothing else, is unable to escape the appeal, is urged to proclaim his inspiration, and finds no rest till he has fulfilled his supposed mission.

β. Reuss’ Statement of the Difficulty.—Reuss (Les Prophétes, t. i. p. 25) agrees with Ewald in reducing the gift of prophecy to the subjective belief in the presence of a divine voice which has no objective reality. It is of little practical import in the present question whether, according to this last opinion, Hebrew prophecy must be identified with pagan soothsaying, or whether it is one with the national and tribal presentiment of Israel. Both theories have their adherents.

γ. M. Réville’s Addition.—M. Réville’s theory too explains prophecy as “a phenomenon of the life of sentiment.” “To-day’s psychological medicine,” says the learned author (Revue des deux Mondes, 15 juin 1867, pp. 823, 824), “seriously studies the numerous facts which prove that nervous superexcitement, which may be caused in various ways, is often accompanied by a remarkable display of feeling, of memory, of clear ideas, and especially of foresight. This foresight is, of course, far from being infallible; but it would be wrong to deny the surprising rapidity and the automatic certainty of the unconscious mental operations at these moments of mental excitement.”

δ. Kuenen’s Theory.—We must not close the statement of our opponents’ theories without giving a clear view of Dr. A. Kuenen’s position regarding our present subject. For the books “The Religion of Israel to the Fall of the Jewish State” (Dutch ed. 1869–70; English transl. 1874–75) and “Prophets and Prophecy in Israel” (Dutch ed. 1875; English transl. 1877) of the renowned Leyden professor are constantly quoted in our days by both European and American scholars. The former of these is mainly directed against the view which regards the Old Testament chiefly as the fore-court of the temple of Christianity, as a shadow of the Christian truth, as a collection of texts to be interpreted not simply by the New Testament, but also by the later developments of the Christian dogma (The New World, March, 1892, p. 77). Kuenen expresses his opinion thus (Religion of Israel, vol. i. pp. 10 f.): “It is only by comparison that we can determine whether many persons are right in assuming a specific difference between Israel’s religion and its sisters. Without the shadow of doubt, then, we deny the existence of such a difference.… The belief in the exceptional origin of the religion of the Israelites is founded simply and solely on the testimony of their holy records. But that appearance vanishes as soon as we look at it more closely.… Although considered as a whole the Old Testament may with justice be adduced as testifying in favor of supernaturalism, its separate parts, regarded by the light of criticism, speak loudly for a natural development both of the Israelitish religion itself and of the belief in its heavenly origin. As soon as the dispute between the whole and its parts is noticed, it is decided.” Prophetism is accordingly a merely human phenomenon, coming from God as everything comes from God. But, notwithstanding this, it comes also from man, and specifically it comes from Israel, of whose spirit it is the most exalted expression. It testifies only to the special destiny of Israel and to the duty of man to seek God and perhaps to find him.

ε. Kuenen’s View further Developed.—Kuenen’s other book, “Prophets and Prophecy in Israel,” deals more directly with our subject, and was written at the instigation of Dr. John Muir, of Edinburgh, on the occasion of A. Réville’s articles in the Revue des deux Mondes. Its object is to determine the function of the prophetic thought in the religious development of Israel and of mankind. The book has a polemical and ruthless tone. Kuenen takes the prophetic predictions one by one, and undertakes to show that most of them were not fulfilled, and that those which were fulfilled do not demand any supposition of supernatural insight to account for them. He treats the prophets as living men enveloped in the atmosphere of their own times, acting on the instincts of their own souls, and he finds no need of the supernatural in order to explain their work. The professor places the value of Hebrew prophecy not in its predictive element, but in its creating the conception of ethical monotheism. And in order to shield himself against the blame of irreverence towards the line of prophets, Kuenen says that the man into whose mind thoughts are mechanically poured by God is no more to be considered great than the warrior who slays his enemy with an enchanted sword. According to him the prophets must cease to be machines, and become thinkers, wielding an enormous moral power (The New World, March, 1892, p. 81).

ζ. Kuenen’s Method Illustrated.—We may add a specimen of Kuenen’s reasoning: “A specific supernatural character can in nowise be ascribed to the trance; its divine origin is not at all self-evident; phenomena of that nature were far from uncommon in ancient times and in the Middle Ages, as they occur even at the present day. It is true that for a long time people had no hesitation in ascribing them to supernatural influence. They seemed so singular and extraordinary that this explanation forced itself quite naturally on men’s minds. What could not be derived from God was therefore regarded as a display of the power of the devil. But we now no longer occupy that standpoint. Ecstasy is now accurately studied, compared with other affections allied to it, and is explained from the human organism itself, specifically from the nervous system. It may be—on that point I determine nothing at present—that the trances of the Israelitish prophets were of a nature altogether different; but that must be proved separately, for ecstasy in itself is no supernatural phenomenon. It does not therefore advance us a step in determining the origin of the Old Testament prophecy” (Prophets and Prophecy in Israel, p. 86, London, 1871; cf. Ladd, Doctrine of Sacred Scripture, ii. pp. 440 f., 1883).

Answer: 1. The Naturally Ecstatic State.—First a word concerning the ecstatic state, the natural character of which both Réville and Kuenen are so careful to notice. In a rude and uncultivated age epileptic and deranged persons may have been regarded as possessed by evil spirits or the divine spirit, as the nature of the case seemed to indicate. Such persons, too, may have had strange experiences and uttered marvellous sayings, supposed to be inspired by an indwelling spirit. Moreover, the ecstatic state may have been produced by artificial means. The prophets of Baal, e.g., are said to have cut themselves with knives and to have cried out for hours in a frenzy (3 Kings 18:29); the necromancers are represented as chirping and muttering in the practice of their art (Is. 8:19); the Shamans of eastern Asia cast themselves into an unconscious state by means of a tambourine and of stimulants, and though their answers in that state are often surprisingly accurate, they know nothing of what has transpired when they return to consciousness (Tholuck, “Die Propheten,” pp. 8 f.); how the Delphian prophetesses were cast into the prophetic state by the foul gases arising from the clefts in the rocks is well known (Tholuck, 1. c., pp. 6 f.; cf. Maudsley, “Natural Causes and supernatural Seemings,” London, 1886, pp. 176 f.); the whirling and the howling of the Mahometan dervishes are practised even in our days; the Indian Fakirs cut themselves with knives, as did the prophets of Baal; besides all this we have the kindred phenomena of second sight, of unconscious somnambulism and of hypnotism.

2. This is nowhere said to belong especially to the Hebrews.—In these so-called ecstatic conditions involving unconsciousness to the external world, the inner emotional and intellectual faculties may move with greater rapidity and freedom, and may reach the solutions of difficult problems and discern the issues of events far and near. Perhaps there is even added an instinctive prediction and an instinctive guidance through difficulties; but there may be also an entire absence of the latter. Nor do we deny that such phenomena existed among the Hebrews in apparently a similar way as they existed among other nations of antiquity. Thus we read of a band of prophets coming down from the high place with psaltery and timbrel and pipe and harp, and they were prophesying; and when Saul met them, the spirit of the Lord came upon him too and he prophesied with them (1 Kings 10:5 f.); and again, when Saul went out to seek David the divine spirit came upon him, and he went on and prophesied until he came to Najoth in Ramatha. And stripping off his clothes, he fell down naked all that day and all that night, and he prophesied before Samuel, so that they said: Is Saul also among the prophets? (1 Kings 19:23 f.) But if this state is alluded to in the Bible, it is certainly not represented as being peculiar to the Hebrews and to their religion (cf. Briggs, “Messianic Prophecy,” New York, 1886, pp. 7 ff).

3. Fallacy of Kuenen’s Induction.—We furthermore agree entirely with Dr. Maudsley (Natural Causes and Supernatural Seemings, London, 1886, pp. 361, 362): “If all visions, intuitions, and other modes of communication with the supernatural, accredited now or at any time, have been no more than phenomena of psychology,—instances, that is, of subnormal, supernormal, or abnormal mental function,—and if all existing supernatural beliefs are survivals of a state of thought befitting lower stages of human development, the continuance of such beliefs cannot be helpful; it must be hurtful to human progress.” But it would surely show a most unscientific bent of mind were we to conclude from the spuriousness of some supposed prophetic ecstasies that all others, even those contained in the Bible, must be rejected as spurious (cf. Briggs, 1. c., p. 5). Hence it appears that Kuenen’s argument, taken at its greatest value, is not logically conclusive.

4. The so-called Natural Facts have not yet been explained.—Then we must keep in mind M. Le Hir’s remarks on the present question (Les Prophètes d’Israel, in Études Bibliques, Paris, 1869, t. i. p. 6): “Our psychologic medicine may be able to observe the phenomena of foresight and second sight, but has it explained them? Has it assigned their causes? Not every nervous excitement produces them. And who has proved that in no case a supernatural agent is active? Our ancestors believed this. Are we wiser than they, when without any scientific proof we attribute their belief on this point to universal ignorance? Ignorance will always produce fools. There are always charlatans, and always enthusiasts, victims of their own illusions. But when they undertake to prophesy, the future will show the folly of their oracles, and thus dispel the charm with which they had fascinated the simple.”

5. Ecstasy is not the Criterion of Prophecy.—Besides all this, our prophetic argument is not in the least affected by all that Réville and Kuenen have said about the ecstatic state. Were our criterion of true prophecy the ecstasy of its utterer at the time when the prediction is first made, our opponents might, at least, have thrown some doubt on the argument based on such utterances. But ecstasy is not at all necessarily connected with prophecy; many prophecies have been uttered outside of the ecstatic state, as there have been many cases of ecstasy not producing any prophecy. It is not so easy as all this to be a prophet. Since the future does not yet exist for man, he cannot know it naturally except in its causes. If the latter exist already even in a latent state, if there is question of certain physical effects depending on them, a perfectly developed nervous sensibility may perceive them beforehand, as it happens in the case of rheumatic persons or of the tree-frog. But when there is question of a far-off future event, depending on the changeable wills of innumerable agents who are influenced by a diversity of interests, it appears clearer than daylight that no amount of emotion can foresee it naturally. Had our opponents appealed to the power of profound calculations and to the calculus of probabilities, they might have laid claim to a scientific basis of proceeding; but they well know that even scientific men would have smiled at their unsatisfactory explanation of certain historic facts. Our criterion of prophecy is therefore neither the emotion nor the mathematic ability of the prophet, but the exact correspondence of the predicted event with the terms of the predictions, the proper conditions regarding both prediction and fulfilment being verified.

6. Even one Prophecy, established with Certainty, is God’s Testimony.—But has not Kuenen proved the futility of the prophecy-argument, even on the supposition of this criterion of prophecy being admitted? Has he not, in other words, shown that most of the supposed Old Testament predictions have not been fulfilled? Let us suppose, for a moment, that Kuenen has really proved what he claims to have proved: even on this supposition our prophecy-argument is still valid on Kuenen’s own admission. For he freely admits that some predictions have been really verified, though he maintains that in these instances the event predicted could have been foreseen naturally. In the light of science, i.e., of the calculus of probabilities, the last contention cannot be defended. And as long as we have even one real prophecy testifying for the divine nature and mission of Jesus, our conclusion is logically correct. For one prophecy is as much the work of God, supposes as much God’s inspiration and expresses as much God’s approval, as does the whole series of Messianic predictions. It matters little whether a person has signed a legal document only once, or has repeated his seal a hundred times; so it is of little import whether God’s testimony in favor of Jesus’divine nature and mission is given once, or a hundred times, it is infallible in any case. All that is added to our argument by the multiplicity of the Messianic predictions is the greater certainty thereby secured that we have real prophecies and not merely casual predictions; that, in other words, God himself has inspired the utterers of the predictions. Even as in a single extraordinary event it would be hard to determine its strictly miraculous character, so in the case of a single prediction it is difficult to determine whether it is to be attributed to mere chance or to divine illumination.

7. Falsely Alleged Unfulfilled Prophecies.—But apart from all this, Kuenen has not proved that most of the Old Testament predictions have not been verified. We need only consider some few of the instances in which the prophecies are said to have failed, in order to judge of our opponent’s position. In regard to the prophecies against Tyre (Is. 23 and Ezech. 26) which are alleged to have remained unfulfilled, the difficulty arises from not distinguishing between Old Tyre and New Tyre. Nabuchodonosor took Old Tyre on the continent; but New Tyre, on the island, submitted to the Chaldæans by capitulation. Tyre regained her independence after the fall of Babylon, and became rich and prosperous (cf. Elliott, “Old Testament Prophecy,” New York, 1889, p. 52). Amos is said to have prophesied the murder of Jeroboam II., simply because his bitter opponent, the priest of Bethel, thus reported the prophet’s words; Amos did not speak of the king in person, but of his house and dynasty (cf. Amos 7:11 and 5:9). Osee is said to have predicted an Egyptian captivity for the ten tribes, while it is plain from the political circumstances under which the prophet wrote that he predicted only a flight into Egypt, but a captivity in Assyria (cf. Osee 8:13; 9:3, 6; 11:5, 11). Other prophecies were uttered only conditionally, as was the case in the prediction of Jonas and in that of Micheas regarding the destruction of Jerusalem by the Assyrians (cf. Mich. 3:12).

8. Philistia’s Destruction.—But we must not omit examples of Kuenen’s investigation both of the prophecies regarding pagan nations and of the predictions regarding the chosen people of Israel. A good instance of the former class is the almost unanimous prediction of the prophets that the cities of Philistia were to be destroyed (cf. Amos 1:6–8; Joel 3:4–8; Ezech. 25:15–17; Zach. 9:4–7; Soph. 2:4–7; Jer. 47; Is. 14:29–32; 11:14). It must be observed that Kuenen insists on two additional points: First, he maintains that according to these prophecies Philistia’s destruction was to happen shortly after the time of the predictions; secondly, that the prophets had expressly indicated the medium through which Philistia was to suffer.

Kuenen himself is fair enough to admit that the medium of Philistia’s chastisement is not indicated by the prophets Amos, Joel, Ezechiel, Zacharias, and Sophonias. He appeals, however, to Is. 5:30 and to Jer. 47:1. The most probable reading of the former passage is the following: “And if one look unto the land, behold darkness and distress, and the light is darkened in the clouds thereof.” Having overcome Achaz, the Philistines imagined that they had no more to fear from Juda. Then it was that Isaias spoke to them (Is. 14:29): “Rejoice not, O Philistia, all of thee, because the rod that smote thee is broken; for out of the serpent’s root shall come forth a basilisk, and his fruit shall be a fiery flying serpent.” It is, therefore, Achaz’s successor, Ezechias, who is pointed out by Isaias as Philistia’s scourge, and it is at his approach from the north that “the smoke of the north” will be perceived in the cloud of dust raised by his military lines. The text of Jeremias (47:2) speaks only of waters “that rise up out of the north” against the city of Gaza, and to identify these waters with the Chaldæans is an arbitrary exegesis. Hence, neither Isaias nor Jeremias pointed to the Chaldæans as the scourge of the Philistine cities.

9. No Time determined in the Predictions.—As to the contention of Kuenen that these prophecies were to be accomplished shortly after they had been uttered, there certainly exists no general rule to this effect regarding the fulfilment of prophecy. Rousseau’s contention, that we ourselves must witness prediction and fulfilment, is altogether gratuitous. Hence, if Kuenen wishes that his position should have any scientific value, he must prove it in regard to this special class of predictions. In point of fact, the contemporaries of the prophets who uttered the predictions in question did not witness their fulfilment. Sophonias clearly declares that Juda will not possess Philistia till after its return from the Babylonian captivity. Keil, commenting on Sophonias 2:4, is of opinion that this particular prediction has not yet found its fulfilment. According to this view the material return of Israel from Babylon was only a figure of the final return of Israel to its God by its conversion to Christ, and after this return will Israel possess the land of Philistia. Without denying the probability of this explanation, we must take notice that Isaias’ prediction was sufficiently accomplished by Ezechias, who gained such remarkable advantages over the Philistines that he devastated their territory and pursued them even to the gates of Gaza. Not to mention the Philistine sufferings during the Egypto-Chaldæan wars, there is the most remarkable fact that shortly after the time at which Zacharias predicts the approaching destruction of Gaza and Ascalon, Philistia disappears from the field of history.

10. Prophecies Concerning Israel.—Next a specimen of Kuenen’s reasoning concerning the prophecies about the future of Israel. Not one of them, he says, has been fulfilled. It seems, he adds, to be an unreasonable contention; but it is the simple truth. The return of all Israel to its native land, the supremacy of Israel over the nations of the earth, in a word, Israel’s glory, is still expected and will not be realized till the last days shall come (cf. “The Prophets and Prophecy in Israel,” p. 186). To answer Kuenen’s observations properly, we have to keep in mind that a double sense must be distinguished in prophecy: the one literal, the other spiritual or typical. Till now, no doubt, most of the prophecies concerning Israel’s glory, or all of them, have been fulfilled only in their spiritual sense in the Christian Church. To doubt the reality of such a fulfilment is to forget the important truth, so often insisted on by the Fathers, that the whole Old Testament is a preparation and a type of the New. But at all avents, the apostles have hoped, and there is nothing to prevent us from hoping, that the Jews will finally enter the kingdom of God, from which they have thus far freely excluded themselves. And though this may not be a sufficient reason for imagining that the temporal promises of the prophets, not accomplished in the foundation of the Church, will then find their fulfilment, we have every possible reason for maintaining that all those promises will be fulfilled in a way far surpassing the expectations of the most sanguine believer. For are they not the predictions of the same prophets who foretold the Babylonian Captivity more than a hundred and fifty years before it took place (Mich. 4:8–10)—even before Babylon had gained its independence—who clearly and accurately predicted the destruction of Jerusalem, who prophesied Babylon’s capture by the Medes (Jer. 1:1 f.), and Asia’s conquest by Alexander the Great? (Zach. 9:1–8.) Since God has sealed with his own testimony these predictions, he has also pledged his authority for the truth of the other prophecies from the non-fulfilment of which Kuenen takes his argument against us (cf. Trochon, “Introduction générale aux prophètes,” Paris, 1883, pp. xix:ff.).

γ. RELATIVE TRUTH OF THE PROPHECIES.—Thus far we have proved the first and second statement implied in the minor proposition of our argument, that there existed Messianic predictions at or before the time of Jesus Christ, and that these predictions were prophecies in the proper sense of the word. We must now briefly consider the third statement implied in the same minor proposition, the statement that the Messianic prophecies were given by God in testimony of Jesus’ divinity and divine mission. The logical necessity of this proposition in the prophecy-argument may be inferred from the fact that not every event predicted by true prophecy is therefore of divine origin, or has therefore God’s sanction. Jesus really predicted the treason of Judas and the fall of Peter without thereby giving his approval to either event. In the same manner he foretold the destruction of Jerusalem, and at the same time wept over the fate of the unfaithful city,—a certain sign of his disapproval. The coming of Anti-Christ is predicted without having, on that account, divine sanction or divine authority. In the same manner it is not owing to the mere fact of the coming and birth, the work and suffering of Jesus being predicted that he can claim to be a messenger of God, and to be one with the Father. To establish these claims, Jesus must show that God has given his authority to them by the very fact of predicting them by the mouth of the prophets.

1. Organic Connection of the Prophecies.—In order to draw our inference logically, we have to remember that the Messianic prophecies contain a double element: they predict certain outward events whose verification can be perceived by our senses, and they predict certain inward properties and faculties of the Messias which are not directly subject to our sensitive perception. Now, it must be noticed that these two lines of predictions are so intimately connected that they must proceed from the same author; because the first without the second would be vain and empty, while the second without the first would be entirely useless for the human race. The former might be the work of a mere mountebank, and the latter could never be practically verified so as to affect our moral life and our tenets of belief. Hence the two lines of prophetic predictions are inseparably woven into one organic whole. If then the prophecies regarding the outward events that are subject to our experience are verified and, therefore, proved to be of divine origin,—for God alone can be the author of true prophecy,—the prophecies regarding the inward facts that are above our sensitive experience must be of divine origin too—i.e., must have been inspired by God, and are therefore infallibly true. If, e.g., the event has proved that God really foretold of the Messias that he will be despised and the most abject of men,—a man of sorrows and acquainted with infirmity,—the same event has proved God to be the author also of those other words: “Surely he hath borne our infirmities, and carried our sorrows.… He was wounded for our iniquities, he was bruised for our sins” (Is. 53:3–5).

2. Identity of Sacred and Profane Seer.—Besides this there is another way of inferring God’s testimony for the divine mission and nature of the Messias from the Messianic prophecies, or perhaps it is the way already indicated, but viewed from a different standpoint. From the fact that a prophet predicted certain future events, which have really come to pass, it may be inferred that God made him his own messenger to his people. Whatever, therefore, this acknowledged divine agent either said or wrote concerning God’s kingdom, or the time and manner of its coming, was based upon divine authority. The prophet’s contemporaries certainly had no other way of ascertaining the true prophetic nature of the Messianic predictions. For they had not yet the correspondence between prediction and fulfilment to guide them in their belief or disbelief of any given Messianic prophecy. The negative criterion of true prophecy, laid down in Deut. 18:22, could not, in the Old Testament, be applied to the Messianic fulfilment. but was observed in the accomplishment of contemporaneous events: “Whatsoever that same prophet foretelleth in the name of the Lord, and it cometh not to pass, that thing the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath forged it by the pride of his mind: and therefore thou shalt not fear him.”








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