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to sacrifice even the most cherished and beautiful stories on the altar of historic truth, or shrinks from submitting such to an impartial and rigorous examination, forfeits all claim to be regarded as historian or student of history. These modern historians have subjected their various histories to such examination, and have arrived in every case at analogous conclusions. The earliest period of the life of the Greeks, Romans, and Hebrews, is now called Mythical, and shrouded in mist where all appeared clear before. The same is found to be the case with all other nations whose history we have adequate means to trace. It is not pleasanter; we should not choose to live in a mist, nor wish to see the clouds gathering round and obscuring our favourite scenes; but the previous clearness being discovered to have been not the clearness of nature, but a mere daubed picture drawn by imaginative artists, we cannot keep it longer standing between ourselves and the truth.
When we have advanced thus far, we find immediate comfort and compensation for what we have sacrificed, not only in the feeling that, after all, there is no real beauty but in truth, but also in the new light in which we now see history. Mythical is not synonymous with fictitious;' the myth covers an event, or a thought, generally grander than itself. Dorus and Aeolus were not single men, but represent the whole nations of Dorians and Aeolians; Shem and Ham, the whole known populations of their respective regions, the south-west of Asia and the north of Africa. So when Ewald shows us Abraham as a ' representative man,' and his wanderings as those of a large tribe, and the quarrels between Jacob and Esau as great international struggles between the Hebrew and the Arabian tribes, rather than the petty strife of a few herdsmen, the history assumes a grander scale than we had any idea of before ; and we look with heightened eagerness for what more it may disclose. Stories which before amused us with their prettiness now tell of the fates of empires and the development of nations; and we see why they have been preserved from an antiquity so high that the deeds of individuals have long been obliterated. The mythical system, therefore, as understood and wielded by its
The word has indeed been used, with history and of writing, of which the literal very questionable propriety, by Strauss truth is not guaranteed, and which may and others, of stories spread in an age of turn out to be fictitious.
chief masters, is anything but destructive of history: it rather makes a history where before there was none. But it is not a key which must be used everywhere alike. Of course there is a point where history begins to be literally and not allegorically true, where persons are individual men and not nations in disguise. Even before this point some few literal facts may be found ; after it some few mythical conceptions may remain. The tact of the historian is shown in discriminating these. The mythical system must not be brought down into historical times, nor the mythical fancies of the early ages be presented with the vivid colouring of literal history. The mythical system is not a new sort of history that is everywhere to supplant the old, but a process by which a large field of mere fable is recovered to history, and made to yield its hidden stores. Its general spirit is therefore not destructive, but constructive; through it we have more, not less history, than we had before: and this character is not vitiated by the fact that some unskilful applications of the system have been made.
These remarks will be found to have an important bearing on the present work. The portion here translated deals with the prehistoric and earliest historic age—the age of myth and fable, where the method just described may elicit some important historic facts. The reader will find many such, which will probably be new to him ; and if he is at first inclined to rebel and reject them as far-fetched and over-ingenious, he may after longer digestion of them come to think that after all there is something in them. This is my own, and I believe many others’, experience of many of Ewald's most original ideas.
I cannot forbear to remark that much injustice is done to the subject and to Ewald himself, by this translation of a mere fragment of his work. The history extends to the destruction of Jerusalem, and comprises the whole period of the existence of the Hebrews as a nation. Only at the Exodus did their national existence in the fullest sense commence; and there this translation ends. It can therefore hardly be taken as a specimen of the general character of the work. The age it deals with (the prehistoric) is absolutely exceptional; the treatment required (the mythical) is equally exceptional. However convinced we may be of the soundness of the mythical prin
ciple for the interpretation of the primeval times, we shall never find the history of those times a very attractive study--at least until our minds are specially trained to enjoy it. The stories were attractive and beautiful— only we now see they could not be literally true; the interpretation put upon them may be true--but it wants the beauty and attractiveness which belongs to stories of individuals only. Hence most minds experience disappointment till they reach the period of literal undoubted history. But that is the very point where this translation breaks off! Of course there were good reasons which induced the Translator to act with such apparent perverseness. The question was not simply which part of the book was most attractive; but primarily which was most required. And no one will surely question that the ideas of a great scholar and original thinker on the facts concealed beneath obscure myths of the earliest age, on the gradual formation of the nation, on its sudden adoption of its new and lofty religion, and on the composition of the ancient books to which almost exclusively we are indebted for our knowledge of these things, are likely to be of higher value to us than his description of purely historical times, on which less difference of opinion is possible. Besides, Ewald's most peculiar talents appear in greatest force here—tact not only to detect the mythical but to discover its interpretation; and what is styled by Dean Stanley a 'loving and reverential appreciation of each individual character,' and by R. Williams his “faculty of divination,' which leads to such noble conceptions as we here find of the character and history of Abraham.
The fragmentary nature of the portion translated gives to this volume a peculiar appearance as regards the arrangement. An Introduction of 250 pages is out of all proper proportion to a volume of only 650 in all. But it must be remembered that the Introduction was prefixed to a history in seven volumes ; and that it discusses and discriminates not the sources of the Premosaic and Mosaic history only, but those of the whole Hebrew history down to the times of Ezra and Nehemiah.
In another sense also this part of the history appeared to be most required. It had suddenly attracted universal attention in this country. After the publication of Bishop Colenso's book, every one rushed into print on the Exodus. Publications of every size, every temper, and every amount of learning (except perhaps the highest) succeeded each other rapidly, and appeared to be read with avidity. The opinions of eminent foreign theologians were quoted on both sides; but without much effect, since quotations taken out of their context might be made to mean many things. It appeared to the Translator, who had long cherished the hope of publishing this book, that now had really come the time when it would do certain good ; when it would answer many questions that were daily asked, and solve many difficulties; when the opinions of one of the chief authorities on the subject, presented entire and not in quotations only, would be studied by the many who were seeking light and not disposed to shirk the labour of finding it. The first excitement of that time has passed-an excitement roused, however, more by Bishop Colenso's position in the church, and his presumed obligation to teach one prescribed form of doctrine, than by the nature of his inductions, and his system of interpretation. But the Biblical question never can be settled to the satisfaction of men who think for themselves until it is dissociated from the Ecclesiastical question; and it is therefore well that this book should not have appeared till now, when it will come before tempers less heated, and minds more clear and collected, yet still interested. Let me add, that neither the Translator nor I expect from our readers any general or enthusiastic adoption of our author's views. No book which propounds half the new ideas which will be found here can receive such immediate homage from persons who think for themselves. It is a book whose influence must be silent and slow; and those only will do justice to it who study it long and quietly before venturing to express a confident opinion upon it.
A few biographical data respecting the author may be interesting to his English readers. Georg Heinrich August von Ewald was born at Göttingen, Nov. 16, 1803. Little is known of his origin, which was not illustrious; the personal nobility' indicated by the von prefixed to his surname was conferred on him in 1841 by the King of Würtemberg, but is now seldom if ever assumed. He was educated at the Gymnasium of his native town, whence he proceeded at Easter 1820 to the University of the same place. In 1823, on leaving the University, he took a situation as teacher at the Gymnasium of Wolfenbüttel; and in the same year gave good proof of his diligence and the depth of his Hebrew studies by the publication of his first work, “ Die Komposition der Genesis kritisch untersucht' (the Composition of Genesis critically examined)— which, though written as a warning against the overhasty assignment of that book to various writers on the ground of the various names of God—the then newly-discovered principle -is still far from obsolete. At Easter 1824, however, he returned to Göttingen on receiving, through the instrumentality of Eichhorn his former teacher, a licence to lecture at the university as tutor (repetent) in the faculty of Theology. Promotion followed faster than usual; for in 1827 he became Extraordinary, and in 1831 Ordinary, Professor in the Philosophical Faculty; and in 1835 specially Professor of the Oriental Languages. After Eichhorn's death in 1827, he lectured on Old Testament Exegesis. During this period (in 1826, 1829 and 1836), he travelled to consult various Oriental manuscripts, to Berlin, Paris, and Italy; and published the following works on Oriental literature: “De metris carminum Arabicorum libri duo,' Brunswick 1825; Ueber einige ältere Sanskrit-Metra,' Göttingen 1827; Liber Wakedi de Mesopotamia expugnatæ historia e cod. Arab. editus,' Göttingen 1827; “Grammatica critica linguæ Arabicæ,' 2 vols. Leipsic 1831-33; · Abhandlungen zur biblischen und orientalischen Literatur,' Göttingen 1832. On Biblical subjects he also published : Das Hohelied Salomo’s übersetzt mit Einleitung, &c.' (The Song of Solomon translated, &c), Göttingen 1826 ; Commentarius in Apocalypsin,' Göttingen 1828 ; ‘Die poetischen Bücher des Alten Bundes' [called in the second edition ‘Die Dichter des Alten Bundes,' the Poets of the Old Testament], 4 vols. Göttingen 1835–39; 2nd edition 1840-67; being a translation of Psalms, Lamentations, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Solomon and Job. On Hebrew grammar he published: “Kritische Grammatik der Hebräischen Sprache ausführlich bearbeitet, Leipsic 1827; “Grammatik der Hebräischen Sprache des Alten Testaments,' 2nd edition (essentially a new work), Leipsic 1835, and greatly enlarged in successive editions up to the seventh, entitled - Ausführliches Lehrbuch der Hebräischen Sprache des Alten Bundes,' Göttingen 1863; and a smaller grammar for