But if so, on what conceivable principles is the fact to be explained, that the Jews at the date of authentic history undeniably believed in the autho rity of all these books. If the books were all of them equally ancient, and had been handed down all together from a date indefinitely remote, the difficulty would have been much lessened. But they are a connected series of books—a chain, each link of which depended on the preceding link, and the last of which came down almost to their own times. Whatever influence national vanity may be supposed to have had in inducing them to accept the Pentateuch from the grand past with which it identified them, it could have had no place, at all events, in regard to the later books, which record the crying sins and the fatal decline of their church and nation. Each book of the series links itself on to the events of its appropriate epoch, and the continually lengthening chain was handed down by each generation to its descendants. Each book, therefore, brought with it its own verification and the verification of all that went before, till the whole line reached the days of Malachi, and was brought almost within the personal knowledge of the translators of the Septuagint.
The enormous difficulty of even conceiving the possibility of a fraud under such circumstances is increased by the wide dispersion of the Jewish race, and the mighty separation which had divided the original people into two jealous if not hostile nations. If one portion of the dispersed had been disposed to acquiesce in the fraud, or, in the depth of their superstitious ignorance, had been induced to accept a religious romance composed by some member of the college of the prophets as the ancient Scriptures of their nation, still it is incon ceivable that all the communities of Jews established in the different cities of the known world could have been brought to the same conclusion. Or if the exclusive and intense spirit of nationality by which they were actuated, and which becomes on this supposition itself an effect without a cause, can be believed to have accomplished even this result, it still remains to be conceived how the Samaritan people could have been induced to adopt the same belief, instead of indignantly protesting, as a people so sensitively jealous would inevitably have done, against what must have been either an enormous folly or a criminal imposture. Yet an independent Samaritan version of the Pentateuch carries the evidence for the national acceptance of the Mosaic writings as high as the times of Solomon and David, within little more than 400 years of the conquest of Canaan. Every theory hitherto suggested to explain the existence of the Jewish Scriptures, and the profound veneration entertained for them during all periods by the historic Jew, bristles with difficulties which contradict every ex perience of human history, and every known prin ciple of human conduct.
The two lines of proof furnished respectively by the facts of Jewish life at the date of the Ptolemies, and by the authoritative existence of the Jewish Scriptures, must be regarded together before the force of the historical argument can be appreciated. In fact, the whole series of proofs authenticating the claims of the Pentateuch, whether drawn from the contents of Scripture or from the facts of history, constitute one body of positive evidence. Each part of it mutually gives and derives strength from every other part, and forms altogether a mass of testimony complete and indivisible. No profane composition in the whole world is authenticated by evidence for a moment capable of being com pared with that which affirms the Mosaic author ship and authority of the Pentateuch. The student who wishes to master the topics hastily touched in the foregoing sketch is referred to Stillingfleet's Origines Sacra; Prideaux, Connection of the 0. and N. T. ; Leslie's Short and Easy Method ; Faber's flora Alosaicce ; Graves On the Pentateuch; Marsh's Authenticity of the Five Books of Moses; Hengsten berg On the Pentateuch ; Havernick's Introduc tion ; Kurtz On the Old Covenant; Home's Intro duction by (lyre; and Macdonald's Introduction, etc. An excellent digest of the argument will be found in Wine's Commentaries.
The extreme reverence with which the Jewish people have ever regarded the Pentateuch supplies a strong confirmation to the evidence. For though the later books of the 0. T. canon have been re jected by some of the Jewish sects, no diversity of opinion has ever existed in regard to the five books of Moses. To their divine authority the whole Jewish race has at all times paid an allegiance as em phatic as it has been almost unanimous. The Chris tian church has accepted them with no less confi dence, and regarded them with no less honour. If, instead of looking from the epoch of the Ptolemies backward to the past, we now turn our eyes to the other direction, and look from the same stand-point forward to the times of our Lord and his apostles, we shall see that the proofs of the inspired authority of the Pentateuch are still stronger to the Christian than to the Jew ; for in addition to the testimonies accepted by the Jew, he has other evidences of his own which the Jew does not recognise. There is additional strength in this fact, for his rejection of Christianity places the acceptance of the Pentateuch on the part of a Jew beyond the most remote sus picion of partiality.