Saturday, August 19, 2006

The Hebrew Bible at VTS (5)

It's been awhile since I continued the series on the teaching of the Hebrew Bible at the seminary. Installment 4 was on 8/9/06, installment 3 on 7/23/06, and installments 1 & 2 on 7/19-20/06.

For this installment, I would like to double back slightly to 1887, when Angus Crawford arrived at the seminary as professor of Hebrew and Semitic Languages. He remained on the faculty for the rest of his life (the picture here is from 1916). A little bit about him is well worth including in this blog-series.

Professor Crawford was a lifelong friend of William Rainey Harper, whom he studied Bible and Hebrew with at Yale. He remained in contact with Harper even after the latter left Yale to found the University of Chicago. It was Harper who recommended Crawford for the Hebrew chair at VTS, because he considered him an expert in Hebrew and a naturally talented teacher.

Angus Crawford described "my department" at VTS as follows:

The study of Hebrew and Semitic Languages was in great favor when I entered the Seminary and took charge of the Hebrew Department. Recent discoveries in Bible Lands, and the study of Assyriology had aroused the interest of scholars in the Church.... The High Criticism of the Old Testament was a companion study and an essential equipment for Theological learning. Every student wanted to study Hebrew in those days. Exceptions were allowed and, reluctantly by the student himself, only on account of incapacity.... At one time we taught more Hebrew in the Virginia Seminary, according to Professor Harper, than any other Institution in the land.

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