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...