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JAMES G. MURPHY, LL.D., T.C.D.

PROFESSOR OF HEBREW, BELFAST.

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T. & T. CLARK, 38 GEORGE STREET;

LONDON: HAMILTON, ADAMS, & Co.,

DUBLIN: J. ROBERTSON & CO. BELFAST: C. AITCHISON.

MDCCCLXIII.

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PREFACE.

An ancient writing, purporting to be continuous and handed down to us as the work of one author, is to be received as such, unless we have good and solid reasons for the contrary. The Pentateuch is a book exactly of this description, continuous in its form, and coming down to us as in the main the work of Moses. We may not give up this prima facie evidence without cause. In particular, we should require strong and cogent arguments to convince us, that this interesting monument of antiquity is, as some say, a dry and bare compilation, not even of document after document, but of selections from several later works all going over nearly the same ground, dovetailed into one another by a still later hand to form a factitious whole. For at first sight this seems to be a mere stretch of fancy, in which criticism has overmastered philosophy. A scheme so intricate in form and fantastic in conception cannot be accepted, unless it stand on impregnable grounds.

The main grounds on which this theory rests appear to be two: first, certain discrepancies and difficulties that are supposed to be adverse to the unity and early origin of the work ; and second, certain characteristics of style, by which the selections are detected and restored to their original authors, who are then seen to be consistent in

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