Abbildungen der Seite
PDF
EPUB

mandment, also, is addressed to men on behalf of men. Since in the family all were under the power of the master, Hebrew judicial procedure probably was closely analogous to that of Rome both in origin and in practice. Plutarch declares that at Rome women could not appear in court as witnesses. 31 The jurisconsult Gaius furnished the following reason and explanation: “It should be known that nothing can be granted in the way of justice to persons under power —that is to say, to wives, sons, and slaves. For it is reasonably concluded that, since these persons can own no property, neither can they reclaim anything in point of justice."'32

In short, the public tribunal existed only for the father, and he was responsible for the members of his household. So far as the evidence goes, this states the facts also for Israelite practice. “If an unrighteous witness rise up against any man to testify against him of wrongdoing," writes the Deuteronomist, then both men between whom the controversy is shall stand before Jahveh, and before the priests and the judges that shall be in those days.33

How liable this crude system of administering justice was to abuse through employment of false witnesses is shown by the case of Naboth who was put to death upon the testimony of two “base fellows."'34 The moral censure of the prophets and wise men, and the severe punishment meted out to a false witness, indicates the existence of a strong public sentiment against this evil. The actual evidence of this feeling, however, is confined almost entirely to literature that originated after the middle of the eighth century B.C. 10. Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's house.

There has been much discussion about the tenth commandment because it passes from evil acts to evil desires. Many look upon this fact as in itself evidence of a comparatively late stage of religious development. Eerdmans declared that “Old Testament righteousness is always external and never becomes a matter of inward disposition.''35 He succeeds in clinging to the early origin of the decalogue by calling into question the accepted meaning for the word translated “to covet.” He thinks it should be rendered “to appropriate that which has no individual owner.” In a nomadic condition of society there is much property held in common which must be guarded against encroachment.

31 Plutarch, Publicola, 8. 32 Gaius, II, 96; IV, 77, 78. 88 Dt. 1916-17. 34 I Ki, 21.

But the evidence for this meaning of the word is quite inconclusive. Matthes, on the other hand, has shown that there are some instances in which Old Testament righteousness does become a matter of inward disposition.36 But in his general estimate of Old Testament morality as external Eerdmans is undoubtedly right. While due weight must be given to the fact that the religion of the prophets ultimately developed a high degree of inwardness, few evidences of this deepening process can be found during the pre-exilic period.

A little reflection will show that the late arrival in Hebrew religion of the subjective element of thought and intention is found in keeping with what one might expect. The period of group morality and of a communal conception of religion is not favorable to the development of a subjective conception of religious duty. The subjectivizing process of religion and morality is found associated historically with individualism, not with communalism. Individualism in Hebrew religion, however, does not begin to appear until about the time of Jeremiah. The general trend of these considerations, therefore, favors a comparatively late origin for the tenth commandment.

The results of this discussion may be summarized as follows: More than one decalogue arose in the course of Hebrew history; of two which survive, the component precepts were addressed to men as heads of families; women and children owed obedience through the men, who alone were capable of discharging religious functions. The standard decalogue contains some commandments that must have originated long before the time of Moses; others, again, can scarcely have originated until long after his time. We are, therefore, compelled to assume that this decalogue is itself the product of a long development, and that it was compiled after the great prophets had done their work. To the student of ethical development, the point of chief interest lies not in the origination of the individual precepts, but in the selection of these commandments as a summary statement of an Israelite's religious duties. Being of a very general character, their interpretation and observance necessarily changed so as to keep pace with the morality, enlightenment, and culture of an advancing society.

35 Theol. Tijdschrift (1903), Heft I, p. 25.

36 ZAW (1904), Heft I. Der Dekalog. An important article. Some passages which he cites are hardly pertinent.

It must already have occurred to readers of these pages that the prevailing religious appraisal of the decalogue as a rule of conduct is strangely at variance with the ascertainable facts of its origin and its immature social ethics. Its tacit approval of slavery, polygamy, and general male tyranny, occasions no surprise in one who has watched, through long hours of historical study, the toilsome progress of mankind toward higher ideals; but natural to the times as these defects are in a genetic scheme of Hebrew religion, they are fatal to any theory of miraculous oracular deliverances on Mount Sinai. Here, as elsewhere, the lightning flashed, and the thunder broke, from clouds of human experience. It was Jesus of Nazareth himself who characterized the inhibitions of this early human experience as incomplete when he corrected with the demands of a higher social conscience what “was said to them of old time,''37 and made the essence of the law and the prophets' consist in the practice of the golden rule.

87 Mt. 5, 21 f.; cf. 7, 12 and 22, 39.

[ocr errors]

THE DIVISION OF GENETICS OF THE

DEPARTMENT OF AGRICULTURE

E. B. BABCOCK

This division was officially established in July, 1913, but the preliminary step was taken late in 1912, when the task of organizing a course in the principles of breeding was assigned to the writer. About seventy-five studentssophomores, juniors, and seniors-elected this course during the half-year, January to May, 1913.

The chief purpose in establishing this division was to provide for instruction in the principles of genetics as applied to the improvement of plants and animals. Along with agricultural chemistry, soil technology, and plant propagation, Dean Hunt considers the principles of breeding plants and animals a fundamental subject and one which every student in the College of Agriculture should be required to study not later than the last half of his sophomore year. Indeed, he has referred to the last mentioned subject as fundamentally as important as the English language. While instruction in principles is desired, let it be noted that it is with distinctively agricultural application that these principles are to be considered, not as the study of biology-primarily from the biologist's point of view. However, it is obvious that the elements of biology must be thoroughly studied before the student will be ready to undertake this sophomore course in principles of breeding. Therefore, we require the study of botany in the freshman year and of zoology in at least the first half of the sophomore year as prerequisite to the first course in genetics.

* Read before the Society of Beta Kappa Alpha October 21, 1913.

Further work in this subject is entirely elective. are offering opportunity for properly qualified students to pursue individual study of special topics in genetics, and thus far most of the students who have elected this work have chosen some phase in the improvement of an important crop plant. During the sophomore course each student is required to choose a topic for special study and to write a report, being urged to base his choice on personal interest in a particular crop or animal. Now some of these students become sufficiently interested so that they wish to go further with the study of genetics, and some prefer to continue with the particular topic begun the year before. This plan develops the most promising students for advanced work in genetics and those who follow up the topic begun in the sophomore year have a fair chance of accomplishing something with it by the time they graduate, while those who follow it up in graduate work will have an immense advantage over graduate students who undertake such problems with no preliminary special study.

To some persons this scheme may seem to tend toward over-specialization for the undergraduate. I would call attention to the fact that although the work we have been considering is specialized in nature, yet it is only a single phase of the student's upper division work and usually a correlated phase of his major subject. To make this clear, I give below the general plan of upper division study for students in the College of Agriculture:

« ZurückWeiter »