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.
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.
A recollection of the manifold forms which religious life and thought have taken in Christendom or in Islam, and the passions which are so easily engendered among opposing sects, will prevent a one-sided estimate of the religious standpoints which the writings betray; and to the recognition that they represent lofty ideals it must be added that the great prophets, like all great thinkers, were in advance of their age.