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MEVARD COLLEGE LIBRARY
By est change with
Entered according to Act of Congress, in the year 1843, by
In the Clerk's Office of the District Court of the District of Massachusetts.
PARTICULAR INTRODUCTION TO THE CANONI
CAL BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
A SURVEY AND CLASSIFICATION OF THE BOOKS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT.
THE classification of the literary productions of a nation must be made in the spirit of that nation's history, and in accordance with an accurate conception of that history. Just, though not perfectly clear and pure ideas of classification may be found in the Jewish division into the Law, Prophets, and Other Writings.
According to the most accurate principles, it seems the two first divisions the Law and the Prophets — must be put together, for they contain a cyclus of theocratic writings. In this cyclus it is easy to separate the theocratic-historical from the theocratic-inspired writings. To the former belong the Law, the first Prophets, as they are called, that is, the historical books; and from the third miscellaneous division, the books of Ezra, Nehemiah, Ruth, Esther, and Chronicles, are added as appendices and a supplement. To the latter belong the later Prophets, as they are called, and, from the third division, the later prophetical production, the book of Daniel.
There then remain, as a third class, the poetic books, that is, the lyric and gnomologic (or sententious) writings, namely, the Psalms, Job, the Salomonic writings, and the Lamentations. All of these-with the exception of Solomon's Song, which was probably explained in an allegorical manner, to judge from its reception into the canon-have a religious, but not a theocratical character.
VARIOUS STYLES, POETIC AND PROSAIC.
Since every peculiar subject brings with it a peculiar form, the above classification must be confirmed by a difference in the style of the several divisions. The Hebrews, like other nations, have their poetic and prosaic style, which differ from one another in the substance of the discourse; that is, in the use of more choice and flowing language, (§ 34,) and in the form of the movement. The former has a quiet and irregular motion; the latter a dancing and measured movement, - a rhythm.
The quiet form of prose is suited to the quiet, simple narration of historical events; therefore the historical books, with the exception of single passages, are written in prose. But since, in the quiet movement of the style, the law of euphony and harmony is not at all inadmissible, in many historical passages, for example, Gen. i. xxiii., Ex. vii.-x., Num. xxii.-xxiv., - there is not only a certain numerus, [or measure,] but likewise an attempt at a rhythmical movement, and a division into strophes. This kind of prose may be called the epic, and the other the common.
Soon as the Hebrew began to write with a higher inspiration, and rose above a simple narrative of events, and drew out of his own soul, rhythm came to him spontaneously. For this reason, the theocratical-inspired and poetic books are written in a rhythmical style. But they are written in various degrees of rhythm, according as the writer was more or less inspired. Some passages in the Prophets and Ecclesiastes rise little, or not at all, above prose, or soon sink back into it. This transition from prose to rhythm, and the reverse, constitutes a peculiar beauty of Hebrew poetry; but it is only obtained by the remarkable irregularity of its rhythm.
SYMMETRY OF THE MEMBERS.
The Hebrews neglect the rhythm of syllables, and, in this respect, recognize only an irregular measure, (numerus,) which sometimes has a uniform movement." But the proportion of the members in the sentence is deter
Since, in Hebrew, all the syllables have the same duration, or, according to the systema morarum, three moments of time, for example, ▸, 33, -therefore the change of the tone (Wechsel der Rede) is produced by the accent, which gives the tone-syllable greater emphasis; for example, This law once admitted, there would generally be found a free mixture of iambuses, (",) trochees, (,,) amphibrachs, (,)
anapests, (,) &c.
Sometimes there would be a predominance of iambic, trochaic, or anapestic movement; for example,
mined by the law of symmetry,—parallelismus membrorum, the fundamental law of all rhythmical movement, which always consists in a certain uniform return. The Samaritan and Æthiopian languages have merely a measure of lines, without any measure of syllables. In Hebrew poetry, this return is given in its simplest form, in the succession of two corresponding members, as it were the pulse-beat of the discourse, by which the swelling heart expresses its emotions.
"The Hebrew soul," says a writer, "is the silent, yet still unfathomed deep of the divine in man. It is not the ocean over which the winds are sweeping, and in which all the floods rush together; but it is the lowest, the living deep and fountain, which only discloses itself in a soft and gentle stream, scarcely perceptible to mortal ear. Hence there is the simple parallelism, which continually recurs, and the unconfined and unadorned heart of poetry, with its uniform beat.""
For this discovery we are indebted to Bellermann, Versuch. üb. d. Metrik d. Hebräer; Berl. 1813. But he goes too far when he attempts to prove there is actual versification in the Hebrew poetry. To this it may be added that, perhaps, the shevas when a consonant is closely connected with them, and the composite shevas, form half a short syllable, so that in the last exam
ple we must scan thus:
DAN. Leutwein, also, has referred to the numerus, Biblische Verskunst; Tüb. 1795.
"Rhythm — which is a fundamental law of the voice-can never be
entirely wanting in any human discourse. But it appears the more distinctly