|Encyclopaedia Britannica 11th Edition||Public Domain via Project Gutenberg|
(1549-1612), English scholar and divine, was born at Owlbury, Bishop's Castle, Shropshire, in 1549. He was educated by Bernard Gilpin at Houghton-le-Spring and at Cambridge, where he became fellow of St John's and then of Christ's, and took orders. Here he laid the foundation of the Hebrew scholarship for which he was afterwards so distinguished. From Cambridge he went to London, where his eloquence gained him many and powerful friends. In 1588 he published his first work, "a little book of great pains," entitled A Concent of Scripture. This work, dealing with biblical chronology and textual criticism, was attacked at both universities, and the author was obliged to defend it in a series of lectures. In 1589 he went to Germany, where he frequently engaged in discussions both with Romanists and with the learned Jews whom he met at Frankfort and elsewhere. In 1591 he returned to England, but his Puritan leanings incurred the hostility of Whitgift. Accordingly in 1592 he once more went abroad, and cultivated the acquaintance of the principal scholars of Europe, including Scaligeri and Rabbi Elias. Such was the esteem in which he was held, even by his opponents, that he might have had a cardinal's hat if he had been willing to change his faith. In 1599 he published his "Explication" of the article "He descended into hell," in which he maintained that Hades means simply the abode of departed spirits, not the place of torment. On the accession of James he returned to England; but not being engaged to co-operate in the new translation of the Bible (though he had for some years planned a similar work), he retired to Middleburg in Holland, where he preached to the English congregation. In 1611 he returned to England, where he died on the 4th of August 1612.
Some of his works were collected and published in a large folio volume in 1662, with a sketch of his life by John Lightfoot, but many of his theological MSS. remain still unedited in the British Museum.