ALBRIGHT, WILLIAM FOXWELL (1891-1971)
Life. Called the dean of biblical archaeologists in his last decades, William Foxwell Albright was also to become a well-known biblical interpreter. As the first of six children, four boys and two girls, born to self-supporting Methodist missionary parents in Chile, he benefited by schooling he received mainly from his well-educated mother and preacher father and by tutoring his siblings. He became as fluent in Spanish as in English and learned French and German in Chile in his first twelve years. The austere life and strict religion of his early years produced a frugal, conservative lifestyle that he never abandoned, which enabled him to accomplish much with little support.
Albright's left hand was crippled when he was five by an accident at his grandmother Foxwell's Iowa farm. This misfortune, as well as his myopia, early turned him from sports to books—history and theology in his father's library. He devoured R. W. Rogers's two-volume The History of Babylonia and Assyria, which he ordered with errand money he had earned. By eleven he already knew that he wished to become a biblical archaeologist but feared that by the time he grew up, everything would have been discovered.
While attending Upper Iowa University, Albright taught himself Hebrew from his father's Harper textbook. He also learned Akkadian, besides studying math, science and ancient languages and participating in debating and literary clubs. Since he had to do hard manual labor, he became quite adept even with his crippled hand. While he later considered the college to have been culturally narrow, he appreciated the good foundation he had gained in Greek, Latin and mathematics.
A year as a high school principal in German-speaking Menno, South Dakota, the year after his 1912 graduation from college, convinced Albright that his talents did not lie at that level of teaching. But in that year, because he could send with his application to Johns Hopkins University a proof of an article he had submitted to a German scholarly publication on an Akkadian word, he was accepted and received a small scholarship.
This started four years of doctoral study under Paul Haupt, a leading biblical scholar who was founder and chair of the Oriental Seminary, today called the Department of Near Eastern Studies. There Albright was trained in a mythical and historical-critical approach to biblical studies, as well as in Semitic languages. His first published articles, before and after his 1916 graduation, reflect Haupt's more liberal views, although a decade later Albright confessed in a letter to Haupt that he had since reverted to the more conservative viewpoint he had learned in his early years and solidified in college, views that were already full-blown in his mind before he came to Johns Hopkins.
After graduation Albright taught in Haupt's department, supported by further scholarships, until in 1918 he had to endure six painful months of limited service as a clerk in World War I. A letter to his mother during his months in the army reveals his thinking. He said he was not spreading ideas of higher criticism there—those men needed only to have simple faith in the Nazarene. While the philosophical and scientific investigation of the religious development of humanity was not relevant for the person's soul needs, such research must be undertaken in the future, building on his or similar studies, by those who would be guides in religious thought.
After Albright was able to return to teaching and writing, by the end of 1919 he was finally able to use the Thayer Fellowship he had won for a year of study in Palestine. The decade of the 1920s in Jerusalem, where in August 1921 he married Ruth Norton, a Hopkins Ph.D. in Sanskrit, was an intense time of study of modern Hebrew and modern Arabic, of teaching ministers who came for a few months of study with him in the American School of Oriental Research (now the W. F. Albright Institute of Archaeological Research), where he soon became director, and of his beginning excavations. Three of four sons were born in Jerusalem during that decade.
Work. Albright first dug at Gibeah (King Saul's headquarters at Tell el-Ful) and later at Bethel and Beth-zur. Especially important were his four landmark seasons of excavation at Tell Beit Mirsim, which he identified as biblical Debir, Kiriath-sefer. There he established pottery chronology for western Palestine and refined his theory of dating the biblical exodus of the Hebrews from Egypt to the thirteenth century B.C. He was in touch with other archaeologists, involved in dating their finds to correlate with biblical data and in deciphering the newly discovered Ugaritic tablets (1929-1930) and an Egyptian stele found at Beth-shan. With his conservative religious viewpoint, and as a result of his explorations of the land of the Bible even before beginning to excavate, he came to accept the reality of the Bible's stories grounded there, and he changed the focus of his writings. He began a decades-long effort to counteract the work of Julius *Wellhausen and other scholars who thought that the Bible contained little reliable history.
After Haupt's death, Albright became chairman of the university department. For a few years in the 1930s, he divided his time between Baltimore and Palestine, while he began to publish books as well as articles on archaeology. After his decade in Palestine, he became editor (1930-1968) of the Bulletin of the American Schools of Oriental Research (BASOR), which was started by his mentor, J. A. Montgomery, and which at first contained mainly reports on his explorations and excavations. He tried to write in a popular style to attract a wider audience among laypeople and more financial support for archaeology. In time, however, BASOR became more and more technical, so a more popular journal, Biblical Archaeologist, was begun in 1938 by one of his outstanding students, George Ernest *Wright, who followed Albright as a leading biblical archaeologist and theologian.
In 1940, Albright published From the Stone Age to Christianity, which set forth not only his view of the light thrown by archaeology on the Bible but also his basic philosophy of interpretation of the Bible and religion. In it he traced the development of humankind's idea of God from prehistoric times to the time of Christ. He recognized the historical value of the patriarchal stories and of Moses and monotheism. A review in the Baltimore Sun (March 23, 1941) stated, "The Bible was responsible for Dr. Albright's interest in archaeology;... and archaeology in turn has stimulated his interest in the Bible, for the foundation of his latest book rests upon archaeological research." Shortly thereafter he published a companion work, Archaeology and the Religion of Israel, in which he filled out the outline of the history of Israel's religion provided in From the Stone Age to Christianity, especially for the earlier historic period. From the Stone Age to Christianity and several other books went through a number of editions and were translated into other languages.
In those years Albright not only was developing a number of outstanding scholars in archaeology and biblical studies but also was working to find posts in American universities for Jewish scholars fleeing Hitler's Germany. After World War II, Albright participated in several excavations in the Sinai Peninsula and in South Arabia, but mainly he taught, holding the William Wallace Spence Chair of Semitic Languages as well as chairing the Oriental Seminary. He also published much in BASOR and other journals and lectured widely.
Albright was the first scholar in the United States to hear about and recognize the value of the discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls toward the end of the 1940s. He conducted weekly seminars on them and on Hebrew poetry until his mandatory retirement in 1958.
In the preface to History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism (1964), Albright stated that the keynote of the book is struck in the first chapter, "Toward a Theistic Humanism." Its contents did not repeat but in many ways supplemented what he had published in From the Stone Age to Christianity in 1940. He credited help from friends, one of his four sons, Hugh, and especially his wife, who patiently read to him during the times of his nervous exhaustion and when medication for glaucoma prevented the use of his eyes. One of the subsections of the first chapter (to show his kind of biblical interpretation) concerned "Archaeological Discovery and Literary-Historical Criticism of the Bible"; another section was "Religion in History," with subsections titled "Religion and Civilization," "Higher Culture Prepares for Christianity" and "The Biblical Drama of Salvation." The third chapter was titled "The Place of the Old Testament in the History of Thought." Albright called the Old Testament "a masterpiece of empirical logic." Chapter 5 was on "The Ancient Near East and the Religion of Israel." His projected work on the religion of ancient Israel was not completed before his death.
In the "more personal" part 4, chapter 14 of History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism, Albright stated in a "background note" on his life: "Beginning with the evangelical Protestantism characteristic of the late 19th century I have attended, for a year or more at a time, Methodist, Baptist, Lutheran, Episcopalian and Presbyterian churches." He had married "an Anglo-Catholic who joined the Church of Rome a little over a year later. Through my family, my colleagues, and especially through my students, my ties with Catholicism have continued to become closer. At the same time my Jewish associations have also become progressively closer.... Until I was twenty-one I had never met anyone whom I knew to be Jewish, but after nearly half a century of friendly association I am in some ways more at home in Jewish circles than anywhere else" (Albright 1964, 288).
Albright wrote that enthusiasm for scientific research of all kinds had dominated his work, and he had always read scientific materials extensively: "Friendship with men of science and study of scientific method have been decisive in fixing the character of my own research, culminating in election to the National Academy of Sciences in 1955." That he considered his greatest honor. In addition, he received nearly thirty honorary doctorates from universities in Europe and America, several festschriften (1951, 1961, 1969, 1971) and many other awards.
Albright wrote further in History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism that it was "misleading to insist on any fundamental difference between the nature of historical and scientific knowledge"; "judgments of cause are shared with the social and biological sciences," and "when history is applied for didactic purposes, value judgments are entirely proper." He continued, "In the center of history stands the Bible. The latter has suffered more in many respects from its well-intentioned friends than from its honest foes, but it is now being rediscovered by the labors of archaeologists and philologians. We are rapidly regaining our balance after generations of bitter controversy" (Albright 1964, 291). "The Bible is the heir of the civilizations which had preceded it: Egyptian, Mesopotamian, Syrian, Anatolian, and others. Israel preserved older values, but it also transfigured them by its own genius into a great spiritual culture which was passed on to Europe and has ever since been the guiding light of Western civilization. Thanks to modern research we now recognize its substantial historicity" (Albright 1964, 293). "There has been a general return to appreciation of the accuracy, both in general sweep and in factual detail, of the religious history of Israel" (Albright 1964, 294). "To sum up, we can now again treat the Bible from beginning to end as an authentic document of religious history" (Albright 1964, 295).
In 1966, Albright's Whidden Lectures for 1961 were published in New Horizons in Biblical Research, with chapters titled "Archaeology and Israelite Tradition," "The Ancient Israelite Mind in Its Environmental Context" and "New Testament Research After the Discovery of the Dead Sea Scrolls."
In the late 1950s, Albright and one of his former students, D. N. Freedman, the scholar who became Albright's editorial associate, cofounded the Anchor Bible series, which has now completed the process of publication by Doubleday. In the mid-1960s, with the help of research assistants Leona G. Running and especially C. S. Mann, Albright took over the Anchor Bible volume on Acts, the author of which, J. Munck, had died before completing work on his manuscript. After that, Albright and Mann took on the assignment of the Anchor Bible volume on Matthew, the latter scholar doing the main writing. In both books Albright contributed not only to the content of the commentary but also with valuable introductory articles. Albright could not be barred from New Testament studies any more than he could be kept out of Egyptological studies (e.g., The Vocalization of the Egyptian Syllabic Orthography, 1934). There are about eleven hundred items in his lifetime bibliography, published after his death by Freedman.
Albright considered himself an orientalist. One time, answering a question as to what are the Bible lands, he specified the region from the Indus River in India to the Pillars of Hercules (Gibraltar) and from Ethiopia to the southern part of Russia, with special emphasis on the Fertile Crescent. Of all the lands within that territory, Albright knew the history, archaeology, languages, dialects, art and artifacts.
Two months after his eightieth birthday celebration (May 24, 1971), Albright suffered severe strokes. On September 22, friends and colleagues came from near and far for his funeral, mourning the loss of this scholar.
Since he was always on the cutting edge of his disciplines, Albright was always willing to change his opinion when further information became available. It is thus inevitable that later scholars, including his students, are modifying and sometimes even recasting his published views. His enduring legacy lies in his voluminous publications and in the scholars who are continuing the development of his various fields.
Bibliography. Works. Archaeology and the Religion of Israel (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1942); The Archaeology of Palestine (rev. ed.; Harmondsworth, England: Penguin, 1954 ); The Archaeology of Palestine and the Bible (New York: Revell, 1932); The Biblical Period from Abraham to Ezra (Oxford: Blackwell, 1952); The Excavation of Tell Beit Mirsim (AASOR 12, 13, 17, 21-22; New Haven, CT: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1932, 1933, 1938, 1943); From the Stone Age to Christianity: Monotheism and the Historical Process (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1940); History, Archaeology and Christian Humanism (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1964); The Proto-Sinaitic Inscriptions and Their Decipherment (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1969 ); Samuel and the Beginnings of the Prophetic Movement (Cincinnati: Hebrew Union College Press, 1961); The Vocalization of the Egyptian Syllabic Orthography (New Haven, CT: American Oriental Society, 1934); Yahweh and the Gods of Canaan: A Historical Analysis of Two Contrasting Faiths (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1968); with C. S. Mann, Matthew (AB; Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1971).
Studies. P. D. Feinman, William Foxwell Albright and the Origins of Biblical Archaeology (Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 2004); D. N. Freedman, ed., The Published Works of William Foxwell Albright: A Comprehensive Bibliography (Cambridge, MA: American Schools of Oriental Research, 1975); E. Hardwick, "Change and Constancy in William Foxwell Albright's Treatment of Early Old Testament History and Religion, 1918-1958" (Ph.D. diss., New York University, 1966); B. O. Long, Planting and Reaping Albright: Politics, Ideology, and Interpreting the Bible (University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, 1997); L. G. Running, "Albright, William Foxwell (1891-1971)," DBI, 1:22-23; L. G. Running and D. N. Freedman, William Foxwell Albright: A Twentieth-Century Genius (centennial ed.; Berrien Springs, MI: Andrews University Press, 1991 ); G. Van Beek, ed., The Scholarship of William Foxwell Albright: An Appraisal (Atlanta: Scholars Press, 1989 ). Festschriften include H. Goedicke, ed., Near Eastern Studies in Honor of William Foxwell Albright (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1971); A. Malamat, ed., Eretz Israel 9 (1969); E. A. Speiser, ed., BASOR 122 (April 1951); G. E. Wright, ed., The Bible and the Ancient Near East: Essays in Honor of William Foxwell Albright (Garden City, NY: Doubleday, 1961).
L. G. Running
ALEXANDER, J(OSEPH) A(DDISON) (1809-1860)
Joseph Addison Alexander, a brilliant pre-Civil War American biblical scholar, appropriated contemporary scholarship in the defense of orthodoxy. He negotiated a path between his commitments to the Old Princeton theology and his life as a Romantic thinker, Enlightenment scholar and reclusive teacher. His genius, eccentricities, wide-ranging interests and expertise, especially in languages and literature, set him apart from his colleagues. His close connections with German Confessionalist Ernest Wilhelm *Hengstenberg prompted T. K. Cheyne to designate Alexander "the American disciple of Hengstenberg," who had himself "made a brave attempt to save the citadel of orthodoxy at the cost of some of its outworks" (1893, 130-31).
Life and Work. J. Addison Alexander, the third son of Archibald Alexander, the founding professor of Princeton Seminary, was a child prodigy who was allowed to shape his own early education. He learned the Hebrew alphabet at the age of six and began his lifelong study of Hebrew at ten when his father prepared a Hebrew grammar for him. He taught himself Arabic, and by the time he was fourteen, he had read through the Koran. Studies in Persian and Syriac soon followed. His biographer estimated that Alexander knew between twenty-one and twenty-four languages well and several others less well (H. C. Alexander, 2:865). The semi-monastic preferences he developed as a child stayed with him throughout his life. He avoided the company of adults and limited his contacts with his students, who admired his immense learning but also experienced him to be impatient, restless, unpredictable and intolerant of the "dullard."
After his graduation at seventeen (1826) from the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University), Alexander spent three years in self-directed language study, reading, writing and solitude. He began teaching high school in 1829 but decided to prepare for ordained ministry following a conversion experience. In 1830, Alexander accepted an appointment as adjunct professor of ancient languages and literature at the College of New Jersey and began a rigorous program of theological studies under the direction of his father and Charles *Hodge. In the first year of his studies, the independent and disciplined Alexander worked through the entire Old Testament lexicographically, looking up every word in Gesenius's lexicon using an unpointed Hebrew text. Then, using a pointed text, he analyzed its details, reading the relevant entries in Gesenius's Elementarbuch. In addition, he memorized the entire Psalter in Hebrew and English, as well as the opening verses of each chapter in the book of Isaiah; mastered several German, Syriac and Aramaic grammars; and read extensively in biblical criticism and other subjects related to the Bible. Alexander also began writing comprehensive reviews, which showed his remarkable openness to German scholarship based on "sound" presuppositions and consonant with faith. He raised the question he wrestled with all his life: to what extent can one use the results of scholarship based on rationalistic presuppositions?
When he completed his theological studies, Alexander sailed to Europe. He spent the late spring and summer of 1833 traveling in Britain, France, Switzerland and Italy. Then he toured a number of German universities and attended lectures of such leading scholars as Friedrich August *Tholuck, C. Ritter, G. H. A. *Ewald, F. D. E. *Schleiermacher and D. F. *Strauss. Alexander was particularly drawn toward the evangelical scholarship of Neander and Hengstenberg, though he aligned himself more closely with Hengstenberg who led the more strict German Confessionalist party.
Alexander began his teaching career at Princeton Seminary in 1834. He spent the first seventeen years in the department of oriental and biblical literature teaching subjects related to the Old Testament. In 1851, he was transferred to the chair of biblical and ecclesiastical history, and in 1859, Alexander took over the teaching of New Testament. Alexander was an unforgettable teacher. His brightest students appreciated the depth of his knowledge and accepted his eccentricities, while the average student regarded him as a veritable terror. Extant lectures and student notes reveal that Alexander occasionally let his students experience the spiritual, creative and romantic side of his personality that he unfortunately repressed in his publications.
Interpretive Principles. Alexander's life as a scholar evidenced itself preeminently in his published works, which include nearly eighty articles in The Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review; commentaries on Isaiah (1846 and 1847), Psalms (1850), Acts (1856), Mark (1858) and Matthew (1860); two volumes of sermons (1860); and a work based on extant notes of Alexander's classroom lectures published posthumously as Notes on New Testament Literature and Ecclesiastical History (1861). These writings reveal Alexander's ambivalence toward contemporary German criticism, which he shared with his mentor Hengstenberg and almost all American biblical scholars of his day. However, Alexander was not so bound by the apparent impasse between the ethos of the Enlightenment and the spirit of Romanticism that he was unable to break new ground in his scholarship.
Alexander's two-volume commentary on Isaiah is arguably his most important published work. He designed it as a reference book for clergy that excluded practical and devotional comments. In this work, Alexander attempted to resolve one of the major hermeneutical problems with the book of Isaiah by blending a historical and ahistorical approach to prophecy. He argued that Old Testament prophets were infallibly inspired to communicate both past, present and future revelations of the divine will as well as absolute and universal truths that had no relation to time.
Alexander also addressed the problem of the unity of Isaiah. He judged "the modern German mode of dealing with the text of Isaiah, and of settling the antiquity and genuineness of its several parts, is wholly untenable, because [it is] capricious, arbitrary, inconsistent with itself, and at variance with analogy, good taste, and common sense" (J. A. Alexander 1846, 1:21). His arguments in defense of the book's unity included longstanding Jewish and Christian tradition; internal proofs, such as the writer's self-understanding as an inspired prophet of future events; historical allusions to the preexilic world; the phenomenon that the prophecies speak of the exile in a way that is "not so minute as a contemporary writer must have made them," and "the identity of the Messiah here described with the Messiah of the undisputed prophecies" (J. A. Alexander 1846, 2:67). In the end, Alexander admitted the difficulty of establishing direct proof for the unity of Isaiah, suggesting that the stagnancy of the debate over the unity of the book was symptomatic of a more fundamental philosophical and methodological rift present in biblical studies. However, unlike his father and Hodge, Alexander was not prepared to fight theological and philosophical battles. Rather, he seemed to resign himself to the present impasse in the discipline of Old Testament studies (J. A. Alexander 1846, 1:253-54). Alexander's contemporaries regarded his detailed historical rehearsal and critique of the views of the German critics as the main contribution of his work (Review of Isaiah, 131, 153). Still, just as his Isaiah commentaries encouraged many to hold fast to the traditional views, his learned analysis of modern German critical views served to disseminate little-known critical views more widely.
Alexander's commentary on the Psalms grew out of his lifelong engagement with the book of Psalms. After experimenting with a number of different formats, Alexander unfortunately decided against a fresh exposition of Psalms. Instead, he resolved to make Hengstenberg's defense of an entirely traditional approach to the book of Psalms accessible to Eng-lish-speaking readers. Alexander felt free to differ from Hengstenberg on a number of issues, however, including messianic prophecy and the arrangement of the Psalter. Alexander's literary sensibilities, for example, drew him to observations about the present arrangement of the Psalms by an inspired collector or redactor of the canon. He also recognized the introductory function of Psalms 1 and 2, which he suggested formed a pair or double psalm. Alexander's insights regarding literary shaping are significant and reflect the kind of insights he was capable of bringing to the reading of the text. Yet he did not develop his ideas in this area at length. His traditional approach to the Psalms also blocked his openness to any notions of development and growth in the Psalter. Because Alexander's commentary on the Psalms was little more than an abridgment of Hengstenberg's commentary and contained little homiletic value, it had little impact on the wider academic community.
Alexander also brought his literary and historical sensibilities to bear on issues being debated by New Testament scholars. Against critics who sought to find a single source for the Gospels and use one of the Synoptic Gospels as a pattern for the others, Alexander argued that each Gospel is a distinctive literary unit. He advocated an approach that held the events and distinctive message of each Gospel together. At the same time, Alexander criticized conservatives who tried to solve difficult interpretive issues in the Gospels by writing Gospel harmonies. He believed that the four Gospels were never meant to be "reduced into one" by cutting out pieces from various Gospels and gluing them together. Rather, they were to be read side by side "as four great pictures of the same great object, by four heavenly artists, with something of course common to them all, but with something peculiar to each" (J. A. Alexander 1856, 394).
Significance. At Alexander's death, Hodge spoke of the inestimable loss of Princeton's famous defender of the faith. Alexander had defended orthodoxy, but he had also opened up the world of criticism to many through this teaching and writing. He had a love-hate relationship with German criticism. He had high esteem for critically informed yet orthodox German confessionalists who marked out the middle ground between precritical orthodoxy and radical criticism. Alexander recognized the fundamental impasses present in the field of biblical studies because of the varied philosophical presuppositions that scholars brought to their work. He did not feel that he was in the position to fight those who came to the task with different presuppositions. When he did argue against the "infidels," he most often resorted to sarcasm, tradition and the authority of scholars like Hengstenberg who had attempted to flesh out the full defense against their opponents. Student notes of Alexander's lectures, his own lecture notes and his sermons suggest that he could have made more substantive contributions to biblical scholarship and to the church if he given voice to more of his own ideas instead of deferring to the wisdom of others. Still, those who shared Alexander's presuppositions about Scripture and criticism valued his careful exegesis and his defense of tradition and republished his commentaries.
Bibliography. Works. With J. W. Alexander, A Geography of the Bible: Compiled for the American Sunday School Union (Philadelphia: American Sunday School Union, 1830); The Acts of the Apostles Explained (2 vols.; New York: Charles Scribner, 1857; republished as Commentary on the Acts of the Apostles [Minneapolis: Klock & Klock, 1980]); The Earlier Prophecies of Isaiah (New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1846); Essays on the Primitive Church Offices (New York: Charles Scribner, 1851); "Gleanings for the German Periodicals," BRPR 9 (1837) 198-215; The Gospel of Mark Explained (New York: Charles Scribner, 1857; republished as A Commentary on Mark [Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1985]); The Gospel of Matthew Explained (New York: Charles Scribner, 1860; republished as The Gospel According to Matthew [Lynchburg, VA: James Family, 1979]); "Harmonies of the Gospels," The Princeton Review 25, 3 (1856) 393-417; The Later Prophecies of Isaiah (New York: Wiley & Putnam, 1846; republished as Commentary on the Prophecies of Isaiah [Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1973]); "Lectures, Notes and Memoranda on Biblical Criticism, Archaeology and Other Subjects of Critical Introduction, vol. 1 (1843-1846)," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Lectures, and Notes on Biblical Criticism, History and Antiquities During the Session of 1846, vol. 2," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Lectures, and Notes on Biblical Criticism, History and Antiquities During the Session of 1846-1847, vol. 3," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Leviticus Manuscript (undated)," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Notes and Materials of Lectures on Biblical Criticism, Interpretation, History and Antiquity (1847)" 3 vols., Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Notes for Class Lectures (1857)," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Notes on Hosea and Luke (undated)," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Notes on Isaiah 52-57 (1836)," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Notes of Lectures on Archaeology (1840)" Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; "Notes of Lectures and Other Memoranda, During the Years 1848 and 1849," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; Notes on New Testament Literature and Ecclesiastical History (New York: Charles Scribner, 1860); "On the Correspondence Between Prophecy and History," BRPR 27 (1855) 24-39; The Psalms Translated and Explained (New York: Charles Scribner, 1850; republished as Commentary on Psalms [Grand Rapids: Kregel, 1991]); "Review of A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament, Including the Biblical Chaldee, by William Gesenius," BRPR 9 (1837) 88-101; Sermons, Joseph Addison Alexander, D.D. (2 vols.; New York: Charles Scribner 1861; republished as Theology on Fire: Sermons from the Heart of J. A. Alexander [2 vols.; Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2004-5]); "What Is Church History? A Vindication of the Idea of Historical Development," BRPR 19 (1847) 91-113; C. Boyd, "Lecture Notes, 1854-1855," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; H. C. Cameron, "Lecture Notes by H. C. Cameron, undated," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; D. F. Denne, The Joseph Addison Alexander Manuscript Collection: [Finding Aid] [Princeton, NJ: Princeton Theological Seminary Library], 1992; J. Miller, "Student Notes on Alexander's Lectures from 1839 by John Miller," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ; W. Scott, "Student Notes on Alexander's Lectures from 1860 by W. Scott," Archives, Princeton Theological Seminary, Princeton, NJ.
Studies. H. C. Alexander, The Life of Joseph Addison Alexander, D.D. (2 vols.; New York: Charles Scribner, 1870); T. K. Cheyne, Founders of Old Testament Criticism (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons, 1893); G. Howe, "Review of The Earlier Prophecies of Isaiah and The Later Prophecies of Isaiah, by J. A. Alexander," Southern Presbyterian Review 1 (1847-1848) 129-53; "Joseph Addison Alexander," BRPR Index Volume no. 2 (1870-1871) 82-91; A. T. McGill, Memorial of J. Addison Alexander, D.D. (Philadelphia: William S. and Alfred Martien, 1860); J. H. Moorhead, "Joseph Addison Alexander: Common Sense, Romanticism and Biblical Criticism at Princeton," Journal of Presbyterian History 53 (1975) 51-65; T. H. Olbricht, "Alexander, Joseph Addison (1809-60)," DBI, 1:24-25; E. H. Roberts, Biographical Catalogue of the Princeton Theological Seminary, 1815-1932 (Princeton, NJ: The Trustees of the Theological Seminary of the Presbyterian Church, 1933); M. A. Taylor, The Old Testament in the Old Princeton School (1812-1929) (San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992).
M. A. Taylor
ALLIS, O(SWALD) T(HOMPSON) (1880-1973)
O. T. Allis began his scholarly life at the height of the fundamentalist-modernist controversy and spent a lifetime defending the supernaturalism of the Scriptures, particularly of the Old Testament. He also critiqued dispensationalism and new translations of the Bible. He taught at Princeton Seminary (1910-1929) and was one of the founders of Westminster Theological Seminary, where he taught from 1929 until 1936, at which point he retired to a life of writing. His writing career spanned sixty years; he published his final monograph, The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics, in 1972, a year prior to his death at the age of ninety-two.
Context. Allis's long scholarly career spanned the first seven decades of the twentieth century, a time of enormous change and upheaval in the world and in the church. Under the influence of modernistic ideas of naturalism and evolution, the supernaturalism of the Bible had come under siege by scholars and churchmen, particularly in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A., the denomination in which Allis served as an ordained minister.
In 1927, the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. rejected the notion that conservative ideas of "the inspiration of the Bible, the Incarnation, the Atonement, the Resurrection, and the Continuing Life and Supernatural Power of our Lord Jesus Christ" (the essence of the conservative Five-Point Deliverance of 1910, 1916 and 1923) were necessary "requirements for ordination" (Calhoun, 349). At the same time the General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church reorganized the board of Princeton Seminary, tilting its composition in this liberal direction, so that by 1929, liberalism had made such inroads into the Presbyterian Church and Princeton Seminary that a new seminary—Westminster Theological Seminary—was formed to preserve the heritage of Princeton's conservative theology.
The conservative movement itself fragmented, and fundamentalism became synonymous with dispensationalism, a movement Allis attacked because he believed that it denied the unity of the Bible.
Life and Work. Allis was born September 9, 1880, to prominent Philadelphia physician and surgeon Oscar Huntington Allis and Julia Waterbury (Thompson) Allis. Except for a three-year period of study in Germany, he lived in Princeton, New Jersey, or the Philadelphia area until he died on January 12, 1973. On September 21, 1927, he married Ruth Robinson, who worked in the Princeton Seminary office and had provided secretarial and editorial support for him at Princeton. They had two daughters.
Allis was mostly homeschooled prior to entering the University of Pennsylvania in 1897 where he pursued scientific studies—primarily physics and chemistry—en route to receiving his A.B. In 1902, he matriculated at Princeton Seminary. He received his B.D. there in 1905 and continued his studies by pursuing philosophy under Alexander T. Ormond at Princeton University, where he received his M.A. in 1907. On graduating from Princeton Seminary, he received two fellowships—the George S. Green Hebrew Fellowship and the George S. Green Old Testament Literature Fellowship—which he used to travel to Germany to pursue a Ph.D. in Assyriology at the University of Berlin under Friedrich Delitzsch (son of the commentator Franz *Delitzsch), a well-known Assyriologist and critical scholar, who argued that the Bible is essentially a rehash of Babylonian literature. In 1910, while completing his Ph.D., which he received in 1913, Allis began to teach at Princeton Theological Seminary.
The volume and nature of Allis's citations of the works of B. B. Warfield, R. D. Wilson and Geerhardus *Vos (his teachers at Princeton Seminary) show the source of Allis's commitment to the defense of the authority of the Bible, particularly by defending the supernaturalism of the Bible. Allis himself noted the particular influence from his predecessors in Old Testament: Joseph Addison *Alexander, W. H. Green and R. D. Wilson.
No explicit information remains concerning the reasons Allis pursued a career in theology. He taught at Princeton Seminary for nineteen years. He began as an instructor, assisting J. D. Davis and later Wilson, which lead up to his inauguration as assistant professor of Semitic philology in 1922. At Princeton, he taught Old Testament, including Hebrew, prophetic literature and the Pentateuch. From 1918 to 1929, he was editor of the Princeton Theological Review. While at Princeton he received an honorary doctor of divinity degree from Hampden-Sydney College in 1927.
In 1929, Allis left Princeton with J. Gresham *Machen and others to found Westminster Theological Seminary in Philadelphia. At Westminster, Allis was professor of Old Testament and exegesis from 1929 to 1936, when he resigned, at age fifty-five. While he was officially retired and did not align himself with another institution, he entered a period of writing in which he published nine monographs, beginning with The Five Books of Moses (1943) and culminating with The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics (1972). For the rest of his life, he also continued to work in some capacity as an editor—for the original Christianity Today (contributing editor, 1938-1948) and for the Evangelical Quarterly (associate editor, 1929-1973). In 1946, Allis lectured at Columbia Seminary, and in 1952 he delivered the Payton Lectures at Fuller Seminary. These lectures were the source, in greatly expanded form, for his final work, The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics.
P. Wooley, a former student and colleague at Westminster Theological Seminary, spoke of Allis's piety and precision as a teacher saying that Allis was "possessed of a piercing mind and well-nigh perfect memory" (The Law and the Prophets, 6). All his younger Westminster colleagues had been his students at Princeton: C. Van Til, Wooley, N. B. Stonehouse, A. MacRae and J. Murray. His successor at Westminster, E. J. *Young, with whom he maintained a regular and lifelong friendship, was his student at Westminster.
Allis was an active churchman. He was ordained as a minister of the gospel in the Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A. on May 31, 1914. He served as the moderator of the Philadelphia Presbytery in 1934. Even in the late 1960s, when was he approaching ninety years of age, Allis was active in the church, speaking out against the adoption of the new Confession of 1967, believing it led to a faith that rested on "the changing opinions of man" rather than "the unchanging and infallible Word of the living God" (Allis 1965). In a period when many conservatives were separating from denominations for reasons of doctrinal purity, Allis remained in the PCUSA his entire lifetime.
Allis's early retirement from Westminster Theological Seminary led to a prolific writing career of almost forty years. Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company (P&R) was founded in 1943 in order to publish The Five Books of Moses and Prophecy and the Church. His books are still in print and cited by conservative scholars in their defense of the infallibility of Scripture. Allis believed that his most significant article was his first publication ("Transcendence of Jehovah," 1912), in which he defended the authorship of Isaiah, and therefore the supernaturalism of prophecy, against challenges related to the explicit mention of Cyrus in Isaiah 44-45.
Allis wrote for laypeople and scholars on diverse subjects relating to Old and New Testaments, extrabiblical issues (e.g., Assyriology), theology, Bible translation and dispensationalism. In almost all his writing he attacked modernism and liberalism wherever he found them: in biblical studies (e.g., higher-critical approaches), in Bible translations (e.g., failure to be faithful to preserve the form and sense of the text from the original languages) and in the church (e.g., the Confession of 1967 in the United Presbyterian Church in the U.S.A.). Between 1911 and 1931, while editor of the Princeton Review, he published eighty book reviews, most of which were relatively narrowly focused on issues of Assyriology, linguistics (particularly Semitic and Hebrew topics) and history (especially related to the history of Israel and the ancient Near East). After leaving Princeton in 1929, he published only sixteen reviews in the years between 1930 and his death in 1973, the final review being on the New English Bible and Apocrypha in 1970.
Allis devoted monograph-length studies to critiques of contemporary translations of the Bible (e.g., the Revised Stand Version) and to a critique of dispensationalism. In critiquing Bible translations, he was concerned to point out the influence of modernism on issues of translations. In critiquing dispensationalism, he was concerned to show that, as an interpretative method, it undermined the unity of the Old and New Testaments, and, as a movement, it undermined the unity of evangelical solidarity in defense of the Scriptures against modernism.
Interpretive Principles. In his magnum opus—The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics—Allis summarized his interpretative principles, principles that were relatively simple and remarkably unchanged from his earliest work. Taking a Reformed theological perspective, which he inherited from Old Princeton, he assumed a self-contained Scripture where Scripture interprets Scripture, and particularly the New Testament authoritatively interprets the Old. He also assumed the overall, organic unity of Scripture from a covenantal perspective and a typological hermeneutic (i.e., God used Old Testament events and personages to foreshadow realities fulfilled in New Testament events and personages). While he believed biblical introduction (addressing issues of history, archaeology and Hebrew language) should be unnecessary, he did concede that, due to the ancient nature of the text and the more recent higher-critical challenges to the text of the Old Testament, the Bible did need some sort of introduction in the service of defending the supernaturalism of the biblical text. Where the critics argued for contradictions internal to the text, Allis was not afraid to argue for coherence by way of harmonization. But he never assumed that the text of the Bible was the product of mechanistic divine dictation; he held that the Holy Spirit inspired the human authors of Scripture and used all their native, God-imparted gifts as part of the process. He wrote that "the Bible is the Book of Man, a book written by man, about man, and for man" (Allis 1972, 9). For Allis, the Bible, like Christ, who was fully God and fully man, was "both divine and human." His concern was that the critics had abandoned the divine side in favor of only the human side.
Significance. Allis's career was dominated by combating liberalism, particularly in defending the truth of the Old Testament Scriptures, most particularly the authorship of the Pentateuch and the book of Isaiah. While he did address other areas early on, such as issues of Assyriology and Hebrew, his career was dominated by his overarching concern to defend the authority of the Scriptures. In his first published article in 1912 ("The Transcendence of Jehovah, God of Israel: Isaiah 44:24-28"), he defended the supernaturalism of predictive prophecy by arguing that it was the eighth-century prophet Isaiah, and not some later writer, who had penned the name Cyrus. Likewise, in his final published work sixty years later—The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics—he continued to argue for the supernaturalism of the Old Testament against all allegedly contrary evidence, internal and external. Evangelicals have been the primary readers of Allis's writing and have built on the foundation he laid. He did receive some attention from critical scholars (e.g., Norman *Snaith and William Foxwell *Albright). Albright in particular began his quite critical review of The Five Books of Moses by admitting that Allis's book "was perhaps the most scholarly defense of the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, in its present form, that has appeared in several decades" (Albright, 357).
Allis did not write commentaries on books of the Old Testament, or an Old Testament introduction or an Old Testament theology. Even his work that was most expositional in title, God Spake by Moses: An Exposition of the Pentateuch, was still primarily apologetic in tone. In the face of the challenge of modernism, he wrote to defend the supernaturalism of the historic Christian faith as found in the Scriptures. He believed that to defend the veracity and authority of the Scriptures was to defend Christ and God's plan of salvation accomplished in Christ. To undermine the truth of the Old Testament as Scripture was to undermine the gospel and the salvation accomplished in Christ. Allis put it this way in the concluding chapter of his first published book: "the redemptive supernaturalism of the Books of Moses is essentially the same as the redemptive supernaturalism of the New Testament, is preparatory to it, and has its fulfillment in the Messiah of whom Moses spoke. Deny this redemptive supernaturalism in the Pentateuch and logically there is no place for the supernatural Christ of the New Testament" (Allis 1943, 280).
Bibliography. Works. "Assyriological Research During the Past Decade," PTR 12 (1914) 229-64; "The Bearing of Archaeology upon the Higher Criticism of the Psalms," PTR 15 (1917) 277-324; "The Birth Oracle to Rebekah (Gen 25:23): A Study in the Interpretation of Prophecy," EvQ 11 (1939) 97-117; "Christian Faith and the Supernatural," CT 9 (November 6, 1964) 12-15; "The Comment on John 9:38 in the American Revised Version," PTR 17 (1919) 241-311; "Dr. Fosdick and the 'Auburn' Affirmation," The Presbyterian 94 (May 8, 1924) 277-324; The Five Books of Moses: A Reexamination of the Modern Theory That the Pentateuch Is a Late Compilation from Diverse and Conflicting Sources by Authors and Editors Whose Identity Is Completely Unknown (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1943); God Spake by Moses: An Exposition of the Pentateuch (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1951); "The Law and the Prophets," The Evangelical Student 4 (October 1928) 11-28; "Modern Dispensationalism and the Doctrine of the Unity of Scripture," EvQ 8 (1936) 22-35; The New English Bible: The New Testament of 1961. A Comparative Study (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1963); The Proposed Confession of 1967 (Philadelphia: P&R, 1965); "Old Testament Emphases and Modern Thought (Part I)," PTR 23 (1925) 432-64; The Old Testament: Its Claims and Its Critics (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1972); Prophecy and the Church: An Examination of the Claim of Dispensationalists That the Christian Church Is a Mystery Parenthesis Which Interrupts the Fulfillment to Israel of the Kingdom Prophecies of the Old Testament (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1945); Revised Version or Revised Bible? A Critique of the Revised Standard Version of the Old Testament (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1953); Revision or Translation? The Revised Standard Version of 1946: A Comparative Study (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1948); "The Time Factor in the Theory of Evolution," The Presbyterian 95 (January 15, 1925) 8-9; "The Transcendence of Jehovah, God of Israel: Isaiah 44:24-28," in Biblical and Theological Studies by Members of the Faculty of Princeton Theological Seminary (Birmingham, AL: Solid Ground Christian Books, 2003 ) 579-634; The Unity of Isaiah: A Study in Prophecy (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1950); "Was Jesus a Modernist?" PTR 27 (1929) 83-119.
Studies. W. F. Albright, Review of The Five Books of Moses, by O. T. Allis, JBL 62 (1943) 357-61; D. B. Calhoun, Princeton Seminary, 2, The Majestic Testimony 1869-1929 (Carlisle, PA: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1996); J. Skilton, "Oswald T. Allis," in Bible Interpreters of the Twentieth Century: A Selection of Evangelical Voices, ed. W. A. Elwell and J. D. Weaver (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1999) 122-31; idem, et al., eds., The Law and the Prophets: Old Testament Studies in Honor of Oswald Thompson Allis (Nutley, NJ: P&R, 1974); N. H. Snaith, review of Oswald T. Allis, The Unity of Isaiah, in Eleven Years of Bible Bibliography: the Book Lists of the Society for Old Testament Study, 1946-56, ed. H. H. Rowley (Indiana Hills, CO: The Falcon's Wing, 1957) 340; M. A. Taylor, The Old Testament in the Old Princeton School (1812-1929) (San Francisco: Mellen Research University Press, 1992); J. H. Wood Jr., "Oswald T. Allis and the Question of Isaianic Authorship," JETS 48 (2005) 249-61.