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JOSEPH CAN. BANS, S.T.D.
+ HENRICUS EDUARDUS,
ROBSON AND SONS, PRINTERS, PANCRAS ROAD, N.W.
OBJECT AND PLAN OF THE BOOK.
A KNOWLEDGE of the Holy Scripture is suitable and useful to the Christian, and expected from the man of education. And when, as at present, the intellect is carefully instructed in many things, it is important that religious knowledge also should be thorough and complete. The child must begin by Bible stories, or a manual of sacred history; but this is not enough for more advanced scholars. They require not only a more complete knowledge of the history than can be obtained from a summary, but still more, some acquaintance with the beautiful language of the Holy Scripture itself.
Yet it will not answer the purpose to put the Bible itself into the student's hands. It is too long and too intricate for him readily to make out a consecutive history. He cannot learn it all, and wants the knowledge of what he may best leave out. Moreover, the difficulties he will continually meet, and which are studiously brought out by, modern thinkers, will make him say with the Ethiopian when Philip the deacon asked him, “Understandest thou what thou readest ? How can I unless some one show me? A certain amount both of learning and of discretion are needful for reading the Old Testament with profit.
With the view, therefore, of assisting students of the Old Testament, I have supposed myself to be reading it together with them, and to have marked the chapters which must not be omitted; for the difficulty is what to leave out,
These are put down in such order as to show a consecutive history, and short remarks and explanations on points of difficulty, taken from approved writers, have been added. Where the same events are narrated in different books, e.g. in the Kings and Paralipomenon, that account has been chosen which seemed most full, or most easy of comprehension. And from the books not historical I have selected some of the best-known or most striking passages as specimens of the whole; the object being to give the student such a knowledge of the history and of the separate books as a well-instructed person may be reasonably expected to be possessed of.
The Readings' are divided into four historical periods :
1. The Patriarchs ; or the Old Testament history from the beginning to the birth of Moses, i.e. from B.C. 4004 to B.C. 1571, a period of 2433 years.
2. The Israelites ; 'or history of God's chosen people from the birth of Moses to the end of the Judges, i.e. from B.C. 1571 to 1075, a period of 496 years.
3. The Kings; or history of the Israelites from the establishment of the kingdom to its end, from B.C. 1075 to 606, a period of 469 years.
4. The Prophets ; or history of the Jews from B.C. 606 to the birth of Christ, including a particular account of the prophetic writings.
I have only to add that since the object of the book is to enable the student to obtain ordinary knowledge, the common chronology and accepted opinions have been followed without entering into discussions on points of difficulty. These ought at least to come after ordinary knowledge has been attained.
As to the text, though new translations from the Vulgate are not prohibited, but rather encouraged, by the Holy See, yet no English version has been here used but such as has already been published with ecclesiastical authority.