|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
(1841- ), American Hebrew scholar and theologian, was born in New York City on the 15th of January 1841. He was educated at the university of Virginia (1857-1860), graduated at the Union Theological Seminary in 1863, and studied further at the university of Berlin. He was pastor of the Presbyterian church of Roselle, New Jersey, 1869-1874, and professor of Hebrew and cognate languages in Union Theological Seminary 1874-1891, and of Biblical theology there from 1891 to 1904, when he became professor of theological encyclopaedia and symbolics. From 1880 to 1890 he was an editor of the Presbyterian Review. In 1892 he was tried for heresy by the presbytery of New York and acquitted. The charges were based upon his inaugural address of the preceding year. In brief they were as follows: that he had taught that reason and the Church are each a "fountain of divine authority which apart from Holy Scripture may and does savingly enlighten men"; that "errors may have existed in the original text of the Holy Scripture"; that "many of the Old Testament predictions have been reversed by history" and that "the great body of Messianic prediction has not and cannot be fulfilled"; that "Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch," and that "Isaiah is not the author of half of the book which bears his name"; that "the processes of redemption extend to the world to come"—he had considered it a fault of Protestant theology that it limits redemption to this world—and that "sanctification is not complete at death." The general assembly, to which the case was appealed, suspended Dr Briggs in 1893, being influenced, it would seem, in part, by the manner and tone of his expressions—by what his own colleagues in the Union Theological Seminary called the "dogmatic and irritating" nature of his inaugural address. He was ordained a priest of the Protestant Episcopal Church in 1899. His scholarship procured for him the honorary degree of D.D. from Edinburgh (1884) and from Glasgow (1901), and that of Litt.D. from Oxford (1901). With S.R. Driver and Francis Brown he prepared a revised Hebrew and English Lexicon (1891-1905), and with Driver edited the "International Commentary Series." His publications include Biblical Study: Its Principles, Methods and History (1883); Hebrew Poems of the Creation (1884); American Presbyterianism: Its Origin and Early History (1885); Messianic Prophecy (1886); Whither? A Theological Question for the Times (1889); The Authority of the Holy Scripture (1891); The Bible, the Church and the Reason (1892); The Higher Criticism of the Hexateuch (1893); The Messiah of the Gospels (1804), The Messiah of the Apostles (1894); New Light on the Life of Jesus (1904); The Ethical Teaching of Jesus (1904); A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms (2 vols., 1906-1907), in which he was assisted by his daughter; and The Virgin Birth of Our Lord (1909).