The Messages of the Poets. Nathaniel Schmidt

C. H. Toy
1912 International Journal of Ethics  
Sons, 1911. Pp. xxiv, 415. Both the religious significance and the artistic value of the old Hebrew poetry have been to a great extent obscured by an unhappy method of exegesis based on a false theory of inspiration. What is needed in order that these writings may come into their full rights is the employment of strictly scientific principles in their interpretation, and this is what Professor Schmidt has done in the present volume. After a description of the motifs of Old Testament poetry and
more » ... stament poetry and its form (rhythm, metre, parallelism, strophic structure) and a notice of the poets (David is the only one of them who is known by name), he discusses the ethical and religious value of the poems, and then takes up, one by one, the books and fragments that have been preserved, giving his own translations and adding expositions. In the numerous cases in which the Hebrew text calls for emendation his conclusions will, for the most part, commend themselves to scholars, and his expositions are independent and fresh, and are marked by critical insight and constructive ability. He has rich material of literary illustration and comparison, and the dates he assigns to the various pieces are in accordance with the most advanced Old Testament criticism of to-day. In order, he says, to give the impression of poetry, conveying not only the thought but something of the form of the original, his translations are in metre (generally in iambic unrhymed quatrains). There are obvious advantages in this method-the text may gain poetic flavor and the thought becomes more real to the English reader. The metrical versions are very well donethe choice of words is excellent (the predominance of words of one syllable is noteworthy) and the tone of the original is clearly rendered. On the other hand, the employment of metre
doi:10.1086/intejethi.22.4.2377073 fatcat:xksgtgsi4zeebfgbbgzoorbniq