There is in fact no clear evidence of the existence of a distinction between priests and Levites in any Hebrew writing demonstrably earlier than the Deuteronomic stage, although, even as the Pentateuch contains ordinances which have been carried back by means of a "legal convention" to the days of Moses, writers have occasionally altered earlier records of the history to agree with later standpoints.'
The older records utilized by the Deuteronomic and later compilers indicate some common tradition which has found expression in these varying forms. Different religious standpoints are represented in the biblical writings, and it is now important to observe that the prophecies of Hosea unmistakably show another attitude to the Israelite priesthood.
There are vicissitudes and varying standpoints which point to a complicated literary history and require some historical background, and, apart from actual changes in the history of the Levites, some allowance must be made for the real character of the circles where the diverse records originated or through which they passed.
Objections to the belief in immortality have been advanced from the standpoints of materialism, naturalism, pessimism and pantheism.
- The Old Testament preserves the remains of an extensive literature, representing different standpoints, which passed through several hands before it reached its present form.