Genesis in the Bible Encyclopedia - ISBE 4. Historical Character

IV. The Historical Character. 1. History of the Patriarchs: (Genesis 12 through 50): (1) Unfounded Attacks upon the History. (a) From General Dogmatic Principles: In order to disprove the historical character of the patriarchs, the critics are accustomed to operate largely with general dogmatic principles, such as this, that no nation knows who its original founder was. In answer to this it can be said that the history of Israel is and was from the beginning to the end unique, and cannot be judged by the average principles of historiography. But it is then claimed that Abraham's entire life appears to be only one continuous trial of faith, which was centered on the one promise of the true heir, but that this is in reality a psychological impossibility. Over against this claim we can in reply cite contrary facts from the history of several thousands of years; and that, too, in the experience of those very men who were most prominent in religious development, such as Paul and Luther. (b) From Distance of Time: Secondly, critics emphasize the long period of time that elapsed between these events themselves and their first records, especially if these records can be accredited to so late a period as the 9th or the 8th century BC. In consequence of this, it is claimed that much of the contents of Genesis is myth or fable; and Gunkel even resolves the whole book into a set of unconnected little myths and fables. Over against this claim we can again appeal to the universal feeling in this matter. I do not think that it can be made plausible, that in any race fables and myths came in the course of time more...

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