on present spiritual values—which is to say the values that have made the literature Biblical - than on values which appeal predominantly to antiquarian interests. But the same emphasis which makes history the second interest and not the first also, when rightly distributed, puts into proper subordination the multitude of facts and guesses which are so apt to clamor for more than their due. Many a true thing may be insignificant, or only remotely relevant if at all. Especially on the size and scale of this book, such things may merit only casual mention, or indeed sink beneath the surface into silence. Accordingly, I have given comparatively little relative stress to some things that have bulked large in the higher criticism, things like documentary theories, editorial additions or glosses, conjectural sources, and the like ; while I have almost entirely ignored the clatter and clutter of corrupt readings, scribal blunders, dislocations, discrepancies, and in general the pettinesses of destructive or sceptical criticism, — things which do not belong to the scale and scope of this book, and which, when projected on the background of the large Biblical theme, can elicit only the doubtful query, "Well, what of it?" When the final claims of Biblical values are made up, many things that are first shall be last; it will do no harm to weigh and discount that possibility, or in other words to sense the proportions and relations of things.

All this, however, brings us only as far as the outworks of our real quest; the heart of the matter begins here, and no teacher or guidebook can impart it. It is a fallacy to assume, whatever we think of inspiration, that we are dealing with a literature like every other; we miss a cardinal factor if we do, and our study is sterilized thereby. This is a literature unique. It holds perpetual commerce with the unseen and the divine, while also its feet are firmly on the earth moving among men's intimate affairs. It is Biblical. It is a thing to be learned, as it were, by heart rather than by rote. And the heart has its own means of recognition. Contemplating the majestic evolution and coördination of the Biblical theme until in one unitary body of literature it has recorded a universe of experiences and relations wherein the divine and the human natures meet and blend, the sincere heart is aware of what Virgil felt in the universe of nature :

"Spiritus intus alit, totamque infusa per årtus

Mens agitat molem et magno se corpore miscet ;

or to use Burke's noble paraphrase : "the spirit . . . which, infused through the mighty mass, pervades, feeds, unites, invigorates, vivifies every part, even down to the minutest member.” That is our true, our only adequate objective the spirit within. I do not insist on a theological or mystical name for it; that is for the reader's experience to verify. One gets the spirit of a book not by logic or memory but by a kindred response to its inherent appeal. So with this Biblical literature. The Open Sesame is not merely the academic or dogmatic or even pietistic spirit, but the strong pervasive spirit of the Book itself. With this as the inner key the Book is its own best interpreter; and the reflex of that spirit, in fitting proportion and degree, is the best illuminant of the collateral and ancillary issues that are involved with it.

The version of the Bible used as the source of quotation and reference throughout this guidebook, except in some specified cases, is the American Standard Revision of 1901.


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1. David's Part in the Literary Awakening

II. Solomon's Relation to Literature





I. The Lyric Strain, General and Sacred

II. The Wisdom Strain, and the Sages





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