London (Jun. 3)
(By Our London Correspondent)
The assertion that Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch, of the Julius Wellhausen and Friedrich Delitzsch school especially, is really equivalent to Higher Anti-Semitism, was made by the Chief Rabbi of England, Dr. Joseph H. Hertz in a sermon delivered here on the Truth of the Five Books of Moses.
“For over a hundred years,” Dr. Hertz said in the course of his lecture, “the Torah has been subjected by non-Jewish scholars to attacks of ever-increasing violence. They not only dispute the sacredness and divine inspiration of the Pentateuch, but deny its Mosaic authorship as well as the trust worthiness of the events narrated there in. In fact, hostility to the Torah is now a tradition in academic circles. Liberal Judaism endorses this non-Jewish view of the origin and authorship of the Pentateuch; and Liberal Jewish scholars have taken their share in this hostile criticism of the Torah. Surely nothing can conceivably be more vital to loyal Jews and Jewesses of today than to be fortified against an error which, if unchecked, threatens the whole edifice of their spiritual life.
“The Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch reached its high water mark of destructiveness in Julius Wellhausen. For the last half century he was the oracle, and a host of interpreters merely repeated and spread his views throughout the Western world. He and his followers brush aside the traditional Bible account of Israel’s history and religion as nothing more than a theological fairy-tale.
“Wellhausen and his followers tear the Torah to tatters, and reduce its contents to legend and fiction. Yet even this is not the worst. The moral influence of the Torah. he proclaims was unmitigatedly evil. It robbed Israel of its old natural heathenism; and put in its stead gloom and puritanism and self-righteousness. His disciple, Fried rich Delitzsch blasphemously denounces the Hebrew Scriptures as ‘The Great Deception'; and he calls upon the Christian world to cast off the incubus of the Jewish Rible. In him the Higher Criticism of the Pentateuch finds its logical conclusion. It is seen in its true colors as Higher anti-Semitism.
“The opinion is sedulously nursed in interested circles that the arguments of the critics are so unanswerable that the conservatives have only met them with silence. As a matter of fact, within a very short time of the appearance of Wellhausen’s books, Dr. David Hoff man began to subject the crucial points of Wellhausen’s theory to a devastating examination. His example was followed by a number of independent non-Jewish scholars in Germany, England, Holland, Switzerland and America. The most shattering evidence. however, against the Higher Critical position came in 1887 with the discovery in Telel-Amarna, near the Suez Canal, of hundreds of tablets written in the generation before Moses by the Egyptian Governors in Palestine to the Pharaoh of that day. Then followed the finding in 1902 of a 4,000 years-old code of Laws, exactly as it was promulgated by Hammurabi, the mighty ruler of Babylon, who was a contemporary of Abraham and is mentioned in the Book of Genesis.
“The whole critical theory is today being questioned on fundamental issues; and of the work of Wellhausen and his school hardly one stone remains upon the other.”