« AnteriorContinuar »
ence to the mind, is the knowledge of whatever in antiquity is worthy of remembrance, but objectively is that knowledge reduced to a system. In its widest sense, therefore, it embraces achievements of a historical nature, and every thing else, important to be transmitted to subsequent ages; but, in a limited sense, has special reference to religious and civil institutions and ceremonies, to opinions, manners and customs, and the like. As there are circumstances, worthy of being noticed and remembered, not only in the religious and civil, but also in the domestic concerns of the ancients, so Archaeology may be divided into sacred, political, and domestic. Biblical Archaeology embraces every thing in the Bible worthy of notice and remembrance, whether it be merely alluded to, or treated as something well known.
§ 2. ITS IMPORTANCE TO A THEOLOGIAN.
I. It enables him to throw himself back more fully into the age, the country, and the situation of the sacred writers and their cotemporaries, and to understand and estimate the nature and the
tendencies of the objects, which are there presented to him. II. }
2 PRELIMINARY REMARKs.
It puts him in a better situation to detect allusions to ceremonies, customs, laws, peculiarities in the face of the country, &c, and to make himself sure of the precise import of the passages, where such allusions occur. III. It proffers him new ability in answering the objections of the opposers of Revelation, the greater part of which originate in ignorance of antiquity. IV. It presents to his view distinctly and impressively the adaptation of the different dispensations, the object of which was to preserve and transmit religion, to the character and situation of the age. V. It shows him, where to separate moral precept and religious truth from the drapery of the figurative language, in which they are clothed; since language, considered as the medium of thought, takes its character in a measure from that of the times. VI. It enables him to enter into the nature and spirit of the arguments in favour of the authenticity of the sacred books. VII. That an acquaintance with Biblical Archaeology is of great importance is evident from this also, that all, who have undertaken to explain the Scriptures, while ignorant of it, have committed very great and very numerous mistakes.
§ 3. THE SOURCES OF BIBLICAL ARCHAEOLOGY.
It is necessary, in order that the student may derive real profit from a book of sacred antiquities, not only that he should make a right use of it by studying it in a proper manner, but that the book or system itself should be drawn from genuine and undoubted sources. These sources are ,
I. The Scriptures; which are very weighty, because they are in fact the testimony of the people themselves in regard to events and customs, in which they were the agents.
II. Ancient Monuments. These are in a manner living testimonies. Such are the triumphal arch of Titus, a representation of which has been given by Reland in his De spoliis templi Jerosoly. mitani in arcu Titiano Romae conspicuis ; the ruins of Persepolis; the subterranean vaults or sepulchres in Syria, Palestine, and Egypt, countries, where pyramids also, obelisks, and the ruins of various edifices bear testimony both to the perfection and the antiquity of the arts; and the ruins of Baalbec and Palmyra, engravings of which in copper have been furnished by Wood. They are of
PRELIMINARY REMARKS. 3
a more recent age, but they illustrate what occurs in the Bible, relative to the edifices of Herod, and the temple of Jerusalem in the time of our Saviour. III. Ancient Greek, Phenician, Egyptian, and Roman coins, Jewish coins with inscriptions in the old Samaritan character, and those of a few other nations. IV. The works of Philo the Jew and of Josephus, the former of whom resided in Egypt, the latter at first in Judea and subsequently at Rome; both were cotemporaries with the Apostles. V. Ancient Greek and Latin authors, who sometimes give a more full account of events and customs, which are merely mentioned or alluded to in the Bible, particularly Herodotus, also Xenophon, Arrian, Strabo, Plutarch, Diodorus Siculus, and almost all the others. But it is the dictate of sound criticism, that the authority of the biblical writers, who were indigenous, and for the most part cotemporary with the events they relate, should supersede, when there is any disagreement, that of these profane writers, who were of another country and a later age. VI. The Mishna or the text of the Talmud, which is a collection of traditions, made very nearly between the year 190 and 220, and was accompanied after a time by the explanations of the two Gemaras; the one of which, called the Jerusalem, was written about the year 280; the other, called the Babylonian, was begun in 427 and completed about the year 500. In making use of the information, which this work supplies, there is need of much caution, as there are many modern interpolations in it. VII. Certain ecclesiastical writers, who lived in Syria or other oriental countries, particularly Jerome and Ephraem Syrus; also some Syriac and Arabian books, especially the most ancient. Finally, the Journals of modern travellers, who have visited the east, marked the appearances of the country, and given an account of the manners and customs of the inhabitants. In making use of the last mentioned works, there is also need of caution, lest we assign to antiquity what belongs to a more recent period, although it ought at the same time to be kept in mind, that the inhabitants of the east are not fond of innovations, and retain to this day customs, which throw light on many things mentioned in the Bible. The people who have retained with eost constancy and exactness their ancient habits, are the wandering
4 PRELIMINARY REMARKS s
Arabs, who live in the Arabian desarts; next to these are the itinerant shepherds of Palestine, Syria, Mesopotamia, Babylonia or Elak, Erypt and the north part of Africa. Other nations come into the account, on the subject of biblical antiquities, in proportion to the nearness of their situation to the Hebrews. Furthermore, we should make a distinction between what these writers have seen and heard, and their conjectures and opinions; for in the one case they are witnesses, and in the other they assume the functions of a judge, a part which may be sustained by any person, provided he has the facts in the first place upon which he may build his judgment.
As it seems necessary, that something should be known respecting the theatre of the memorable events in the Bible, before proceeding further we shall give a concise view of biblical or sacred geography. Lest we should delay too long in the threshold, we shall not now discuss the situation of the countries, men: tioned Gen. 10:5—10, &c, shall say nothing respecting the origin of the Tigris and Euphrates, and shall omit the geography of Asia Minor and Greece. We proceed, therefore, to state in a few words the situation of those countries, which occur most frequent
The region, which in the Bible is denominated Aram, is a vast tract, extending from mount Taurus south as far as Damascus and Babylonia, and from the Mediterranean sea in an