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Sceptics of Old Testament

Sceptics of Old Testament

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Published by: Aarthi on Nov 29, 2012
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The Project Gutenberg EBook of The Sceptics of the Old Testament:Job - Koheleth - Agur, by Emile Joseph DillonCopyright laws are changing all over the world. Be sure to check thecopyright laws for your country before downloading or redistributingthis or any other Project Gutenberg eBook.This header should be the first thing seen when viewing this ProjectGutenberg file. Please do not remove it. Do not change or edit theheader without written permission.Please read the "legal small print," and other information about theeBook and Project Gutenberg at the bottom of this file. Included isimportant information about your specific rights and restrictions inhow the file may be used. You can also find out about how to make adonation to Project Gutenberg, and how to get involved.**Welcome To The World of Free Plain Vanilla Electronic Texts****eBooks Readable By Both Humans and By Computers, Since 1971*******These eBooks Were Prepared By Thousands of Volunteers!*****Title: The Sceptics of the Old Testament: Job - Koheleth - AgurAuthor: Emile Joseph DillonRelease Date: May, 2005 [EBook #8193][Yes, we are more than one year ahead of schedule][This file was first posted on June 30, 2003]Edition: 10Language: EnglishCharacter set encoding: ISO-Latin-1*** START OF THE PROJECT GUTENBERG EBOOK SCEPTICS OF THE OLD TESTAMENT ***Produced by David Starner, Thomas Bergerand the Distributed Prooreaders team.THE SCEPTICS OF THE OLD TESTAMENTJOB * KOHELETH * AGURwith English text translated for the first time from the primitive Hebrewas restored on the basis of recent philological discoveries.byE. J. Dillon
 
Late Professor of Comparative Philology and Ancient Armenian at theImperial University of Kharkoff; Doctor of Oriental Languages of theUniversity of Louvain; Magistrand of the Oriental Faculty of the ImperialUniversity of St. Petersburg; Member of the Armenian Academy of Venice;Membre de la Société Asiatique de Paris, &c. &c.* * * * * _To ALEXANDER VASSILYEVITCH PASCHKOFF, M.A.THE FOLLOWING PAGES ARE AFFECTIONATELY DEDICATED_ * * * * *DEDICATORY NOTE _My Dear Paschkoff,In the philosophical problems dealt with by the Sceptics of the OldTestament, you will recognise the theme of our numerous and pleasantdiscussions during the past sixteen years. Three of these are indeliblyengraven in my memory, and, if I mistake not, in yours.The first took place in St. Petersburg one soft Indian-summer's evening,in a cosy room on the Gagarine Quay, from the windows of which we lookedout with admiration upon the blue expanse of the Neva, as it reflectedthe burnished gold of the spire of the Fortress church. At that time wegazed upon the wavelets of the river and the wonders of the world fromexactly the same angle of vision.The second of these memorable conversations occurred after the lapse ofnine years. We had met together in the old place, and sauntering out onebitterly cold December evening resumed the discussion, walking to and froon the moonlit bank of the ice-bound river, until evening merged intonight and the moon sank beneath the horizon, leaving us in totaldarkness, vainly desirous, like Goethe, of "light, more light."Our last exchange of views took place after six further years had spedaway, and we stood last August on the summit of the historic Mönchsberg,overlooking the final resting-place of the great Paracelsus. The long andinteresting discussions which we had on that occasion, just beforesetting out in opposite directions, you to the East and I to the West,neither of us is likely ever to forget.It is in commemoration of these pleasant conversations, and moreespecially of the good old times, now past for ever, when we looked outupon the wavelets of the Neva and the wonders of the world from the sameangle of vision, that I ask you to allow me to associate your name withthis translation of the primitive texts of the Sceptics of the OldTestament.Yours affectionately,E. J. DILLON.TREBIZOND, January 3, 1895._ * * * * *PREFACE
 
A careful perusal of this first English translation of the primitive textof "Job," "Koheleth," and the "Sayings of Agur" will, I doubt not,satisfy the most orthodox reader that I am fully warranted incharacterising their authors as Sceptics. The epithet, I confess, mayprove distasteful to many, but the truth, I trust, will be welcome toall. It is not easy to understand why any one who firmly believes thatProvidence is continually educing good from evil should hesitate to admitthat it may in like manner allow sound moral principles to be enshrinedin doubtful or even erroneous philosophical theories. Or, is trust in Godto be made dependent upon the confirmation or rejection by physicalscience of, say, the Old Testament account of the origin of the rainbow?Agur, "Job" and "Koheleth" had outgrown the intellectual husks which anarrow, inadequate and erroneous account of God's dealings with man hadcaused to form around the minds of their countrymen, and they had themoral courage to put their words into harmony with their thoughts.Clearly perceiving that, whatever the sacerdotal class might say to thecontrary, the political strength of the Hebrew people was spent and itsreligious ideals exploded, they sought to shift the centre of gravityfrom speculative theology to practical morality.The manner in which they adjusted their hopes, fears, and aspirations tothe new conditions, strikes the keynote of their respective characters."Job," looking down upon the world from the tranquil heights of genius,is manful, calm, resigned. "Koheleth," shuddering at the gloom thatenvelops and the pain that convulses all living beings, prefers death tolife, and freedom from suffering to "positive" pleasure; while Agur,revealing the bitterness bred by dispelled illusions and blasted hopes,administers a severe chastisement to those who first called them intobeing. All three[1] reject the dogma of retribution, the doctrine ofeternal life and belief in the coming of a Messiah, over and above whichthey at times strip the notion of God of its most essential attributes,reducing it to the shadow of a mere metaphysical abstraction. This is whyI call them Sceptics."Job" and "Koheleth" emphatically deny that there is any proof to befound of the so-called moral order in the universe, and theyunhesitatingly declare that existence is an evil. They would have ustherefore exchange our hopes for insight, and warn us that even this isvery circumscribed at best. For not only is happiness a mockery, butknowledge is a will-o'-the-wisp. Mankind resembles the bricklayer and thehodman who help to raise an imposing edifice without any knowledge of thegeneral plan. And yet the structure is the outcome of their labour. Inlike manner this mysterious world is the work of man--the mirror of hiswill. As his will is, so are his acts, and as his acts are, so is hisworld. Or as the ancient Hindoos put it:"Before the gods we bend our necks, and yetwithin the toils of FateEntangled are the gods themselves. To Fate,then, be all honour given.Yet Fate itself can compass nought, 'tis but thebringer of the meedFor every deed that we perform.As then our acts shape our rewards, of whatavail are gods or Fate?Let honour therefore be decerned to deedsalone."But what, I have been frequently asked, will be the effect of all this

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