William Robertson Smith

Smith, William Robertson, 1846–94, Scottish biblical scholar and Orientalist. He studied for the ministry of the Free Church of Scotland. From 1870 he was professor of Oriental languages and Old Testament exegesis at the Free Church College, Aberdeen. Certain articles on biblical subjects that he wrote for The Encyclopaedia Britannica (9th ed.) roused a storm in his church, and in 1881 he was removed from his professorship. This cause célèbre was an important factor in the modernizing of Scottish Presbyterian theology. He was soon made an editor of The Encyclopaedia Britannica and in 1887 became editor in chief. He was professor of Arabic at Cambridge (from 1883) and chief librarian there (1886). Among his works are The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (1881), The Prophets of Israel (1882), and The Religion of the Semites (1889).

See biography by J. S. Black (1902).

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