« PreviousContinue »
to that the importance of close attention to the various translations in the same language as one of the best methods of securing a knowledge effective for private study and for pulpit ministrations.
PAUL'S VISION OF CHRIST, I COR. XV, 8. This passage of Scripture has been usually supposed to refer to our Lord's appearance to Saul when he was on the way to Damascus. This view has been controverted by some who question any objective appearance of our Lord to Paul, and who maintain that the whole movement involved in the conversion of Paul was subjective and internal, and that the appearance here set forth was a manifestation to his spirit only. A recent work on Paul (Cone, p. 59), says: “The probability that he refers here to the same experience mentioned in Gal. i, 16, as God's revelation of his Son in him is so great that it is not worth while to argue the case. Yet no one would assume on the ground of this latter passage that he had in mind anything but an inward manifestation, a conviction which left the matter beyond all question that Jesus was the Son of God and the Saviour, in the sense peculiar to his Gospel, the Gospel of the cross and of the uncircumcision. For it was on this rev. elation that he grounded his apostleship to the Gentiles.”
The writer then proceeds to interpret the passage now under consideration (1 Cor. xv, 8) by a reference to 1 Cor. xv, 40, 44, where Paul distinguishes between the natural and the spiritual body, and concludes that Paul “did not think of the resurrected Jesus as possessing a body of corruptible flesh which cannot inherit the kingdom of God,' but as clothed with a spiritual corporeity.” It is difficult to see any definite relation between the latter passage and the former one by which the author reaches the conclusion that the vision of Christ on his way to Damascus was not an objective view of his personality, for there is no statement of the form under which he saw him; but it is clearly indicated that he saw his Lord so as to know him, and that he heard his words. In answer to Paul's question, “Who art thou, Lord?” the answer was returned, “I am Jesus whom thou persecutest.”
The proper view of our passage is clearly shown by its immediate con. text, “He was seen of Cephas, then of the twelve: after that, he was seen of above five hundred brethren at once; of whom the greater part remain unto this present, but some are fallen asleep. After that, he was seen of James; then of all the apostles.” Paul then adds, “And last of all he was seen of me also.” This is a part of a continuous narrative of historical proofs of a single fact, namely, that Jesus Christ who had been crucified, had been raised from the dead “the third day according to the Scriptures." In each case the appearance to these witnesses is described by the word ώφθη. What then was the character of the appear. ance to Cephas, to James, to the five hundred? Was it the spiritual apprehension of Jesus as the Saviour of men? What could it have been,
judging from the apostle's language, but that he who had been crucified had risen from the dead, and that they had seen him “alive after his passion?” The same personality that had been put to death had risen from the dead; and this fact was verified by credible witnesses, among whom were Peter and James. The precise nature of the resurrection body was not involved in this part of the apostle's argument. He discusses that subject in general terms in answer to objections in the latter part of the chapter.
Another passage in Paul's writings advanced to show that the appearance of Jesus to Paul in 1 Cor. xv, 8, was merely a manifestation to his spirit Gal. i, 15, 16, “But when it pleased God ... to reveal his Son in me.” It is clear that there is no exact indication in this passage as to the precise point in Paul's life when this revelation took place. The natural reference is to the call which took place at the time of his conversion on the way to Damascus. This passage has been regarded as decisive against the accepted doctrine of the visible appearance of our Lord to Paul. If it were granted that this revelation was an inward manifestation only, there is no necessary contradiction. An external appearance and an internal spiritual influence to the soul at the same time are perfectly consistent with each other. Similar instances of double manifestation are not wanting in the New Testament. Assuming the spiritual character of this revelation exclusively does not overthrow the general reference of our passage.
A more exact examination of the clause, “reveal his Son in me žuoi), shows that it need not be confined to an internal manifestation to Paul. The language is not “to me,” but “in me.” It is not strictly rendered “within me.” The “in” marks the sphere within which the revelation took place. It indicates that it was a personal revelation in his own case, one of which he was perfectly assured because it was personal to himself. Lightfoot's comment is worthy of citation here: “It does not speak of a revelation made inwardly to himself, but of a revelation made through him to others. The preposition év is used in preference to diá, because St. Paul was not only the instrument in preaching the Gospel, but also in his own person bore the strongest testimony to its power.” The declaration of Paul that he received his apostleship “not of man, neither by man, but by Jesus Christ, and God the Father, who raised him from the dead” (Gal. i, 1), indicates that the revelation was made to Paul after Christ's resurrection, and thus incidentally proves that the reference is to an objective appearance of Christ to Paul.
That Paul had passed through a series of experiences which prepared the way in part for the influence of this supernatural manifestation of his risen Lord may well be conceded as in harmony with the expressions of Paul in his letters; but to set aside his visible appearance to Paul on the way to Damascus, as recorded in the Acts of the Apostles and as referred to in the passage now before us, cannot be safely accepted as in harmony with a sound exegesis.
ARCHEOLOGY AND BIBLICAL RESEARCH.
SOUTH ARABIAN INSCRIPTIONS.
THERE is a growing belief among scholars—and this is made so much the more probable by recent discoveries in the Hadramant and Katabân —that the original home of the Semitic people must be sought in Arabia, and that the mother tongue of the several Semitic nations was Arabic. This is the theory of Professor Fritz Hommel, of the University of Munich, who with much erudition argues that when Abraham (in Arabic Abi-ramu) left his native land he spoke pure Arabic, as did his numerous descendants down to the conquest of Canaan under Joshua. The Israelites did not speak Hebrew till the various tribes had settled in the promised land. We have instances, though not common, of a victorious people adopting the language of the country conquered by them. The Northmen who invaded that part of France called Normandy must have done something of that kind. It is not maintained, however, that Abraham emigrated from Arabia to Canaan, but rather from Ur of the Chaldees, and that his ancestors had left southern Arabia and settled in Babylonia. Hommel further maintains that the Khammurabi dynasty was of Arabian origin. This supposition has much in its favor. No one can study the names of the kings descending from Khammurabi without at once noticing their Arabic coloring. This is equally true of common names, or those of private individuals as found in the contract tablets of the same period. Such names, as “Ya’zar-ilu,” “Samasriyâmî,” “Jakhzim,”
," and many others are, as Hommel has pointed out, of pure Arabic origin. If, as it seems very probable, the Arabic origin of Khammurabi and Abraham can also be fully established, much additional light will be thrown upon some questions of importance to the student of early Hebrew history.
Both Pliny and Ptolemy, in speaking of the most important Arabian States and peoples, mention regions inhabited by the Mineans and Sabeans. The term “Mineans” will be comparatively new to most of our readers; not so, however, the word “Sabeans.” “ Saba” or “Sheba,” as written in our English versions, is a name quite familiar to all biblical students. This land was made famous by the visit of the Sabean queen to the court of Solomon at Jerusalem. There are also various references to Sheba as a country of some importance, both in the poetical and prophetical books of the Old Testament. Some scholars believe that the Mineans are mentioned in three or four passages in the Hebrew Scriptures, as in Judg. x, 12, where the Maonites (that is, Mineans) are said to have oppressed the Israelites during the unsettled times of the Judges. The monuments of Arabia favor such a deduction, for it is clear from south Arabian inscriptions that the Minean empire was one of great extent, “stretching
31-FIFTH SERIES, VOL. XV.
northward to the peninsula of Sinai, even Gaza in Palestine for a time having been its tributary.” The term “Meunim” in Neh. vii, 52, is also believed by some to be the same as Mineans. It must also be observed that the Septuagint version in rendering Job ii, 11, makes Zophar the King of the Mineans (Σωφάρ Μιναίων βασιλείς). Yet it is far from clear that the Hebrew writers of any of these passages had the Mineans in mind. These incidental references to the South Arabian empires in the Bible and in the Greek and Latin geographers are provokingly meager, and yet they are all the ancient testimony bearing upon the subject.
It was left for modern times to discover additional data, which completely established the greatness of one or two more buried and all but forgotten empires. It was in 1837 that two officers of the British navy, who happened to be stationed near Aden, called the attention of the learned world to extensive ruins and a number of strange inscriptions in characters unknown to them at San'a, the capital of Yemen. Their discoveries were published in the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society, in 1838. We next find a learned article in the Journal Asiatique, from the pen of Fulgence Fresnel, who wrote a history of the Arabs in preIslamitic times. These letters of Fresnel called the attention of the learned philologists of Europe to what they styled Himyaritic inscriptions, and it was not long till Gesenius, Ewald, and Rödiger had deci. phered several of them. A few years later (1843–45) Arnaud, a French scholar, succeeded in finding fifty-six more inscriptions. These were again discussed and deciphered, but without important results, so that the matter was allowed to drop and the interest in south Arabian monuments was all but dead. And it was not till 1869 that Halévy of Paris was sent by the French Academy of Inscriptions and Belles-lettres to Yemen, where after untold toil, great suffering, and danger from hostile Arabs he succeeded in copying or obtaining squeezes of some six hundred and eighty-six inscriptions which for the most part were new. More than a decade after, that veteran Austrian explorer, Dr. Glaser, visited southern Arabia on a mission of discovery. He and Dr. Langer went over much the same ground as Halévy, some dozen years earlier. Nevertheless, many new facts were gathered, and Dr. Glaser was so encouraged that he made three more visits between 1882–94, all in the interest of archæology. He traveled over a large part of the Hadramant and Nabatân, and brought back no less than two thousand and five hundred inscriptions of all kinds and ages, on which he is still working.
But, although Arabia has long been a promising field for archæologists, yet most of the efforts so far have lacked organization and thorough equipment. Many of the inscriptions already discovered are in the possession of Dr. Glaser, who seems in no haste to give them to the public. It is, therefore, a matter of great interest to know that a thoroughly organized expedition is now being sent out under the patronage of the Emperor of Austria. But, though his majesty has furnished the bulk of the money to carry on a systematic exploration in the Arabian Peninsula, yet it is gratifying to know that the work partakes of an international character and that both the English and Swedish governments bave promised a helping hand. From a note of Professor Hilprecht in the Sunday School Times we learn that Count Landberg, the great Swedish Arabic scholar, who has spent much of his life in the regions to be explored, will have charge of the party. This is fortunate, for a man possessing not only such eminent scholarly qualities for the prosecution of the work, but also having such influence with those high in authority as well as with the petty governors of the warlike people within whose territory inscriptions are found, will have unexcelled opportunities for thorough investigation. One of his chief assistants is Professor D. H. Mueller, of Vienna, well known as one of the best Semitic scholars of Europe, and one well versed in Semitic epigraphy. These two men are accompanied by several distinguished scientists and a large body of intelligent servants. The first work of the expedition will be “the exploration of the ruins of Shabwa (Sabota), the ancient capital of Hadramant, which, according to communications from a shaykh of that region, abound in temples, palaces, sculptures, and inscribed marble slabs.” We shall eagerly wait for reports from the party, for we have every right to expect new light, not only upon the Sabeans, but also regarding the more obscure Mineans.
As already stated, south Arabian monuments or inscriptions were grouped together as Himyaritic. This is too vague, for the monuments discovered and studied by Dr. Glaser and others during the past few years clearly show that there are at least two kinds of inscriptions containing two well-defined dialects, the one, according to Dr. Glaser, belonging to the Mineans and the other to the Sabeans. Let us then keep in mind that “Ma'an” and “Seba” are not convertible terms. The two peoples did not speak the same dialect, nor indeed is it at all probable that both empires flourished during the same period. This may account for the paucity of reference to the Mineans in the Old Testament and other sources. The Sabeans, on the other hand, are known to the Assyrian cuneiform inscriptions as early at least as 733 B. C., for we read that they were tributary to both Sargon and Tiglath-pileser III.
But now a word as to the Sabean inscriptions. These, according to Glaser and Hommel, may be divided into three groups, (1) Those in which the rulers of Seba are called “Mukarrib” or “Makrub,” that is, priest-kings, 1000–800 B. C. ; (2) Those in which the rulers are styled “kings of Seba,” 700-200 B. C.; (3) The Neo-Sabean inscriptions which come down to about 600 A. D. In the earlier of this third group the ruler is called “King of Saba and Dhu-Rardân,” while in those after 300 A. D. he is styled “King of Saba, Dhu-Rardân, Hadramant, and Yemnat.” The longest of the Sabean monuments is what is known as the Sirwâh inscription, written about 700 B. C. This long document, containing no less than one thousand words, was copied by Dr. Glaser in 1888. He also took an excellent squeeze of the same, so that it can be