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Andrew Bruce Davidson

1831-1902. Scottish OT scholar. Born into a poor Aberdeenshire family which made considerable sacrifices for his education, he graduated in Arts (1849) at Aberdeen. After three years' schoolteaching, during which time he mastered Hebrew and some modern languages, he entered New College, Edinburgh, the theological training school of the Free Church of Scotland (then only nine years old). Licensed as a preacher in 1856, he was subsequently assistant (1858) and then (1863) successor to the famous “Rabbi” Duncan as professor of Hebrew and oriental languages. A bachelor of diffident disposition, Davidson was a superb teacher of whom it was said, “Easy mastery of his subject, lucid and attractive discourse, the faculty of training men in scientific method, the power of making them think out things for themselves, were united in him with the capacity of holding their minds, quickening their ideas, and commanding their imagination.” For his listeners the OT prophets came alive. He was also an influential member of the OT revision committee (1870-84). A pioneer in introducing historical methods of OT study in Scotland, who taught his students to read the Bible with grammar and dictionary in hand, he was the author of a number of Bible commentaries and theological works, but is now best remembered for his Introductory Hebrew Grammar (1874), known as a textbook to many generations of students. He also contributed extensively to publications such as the Encyclopaedia Britannica and Hastings's Bible Dictionary. Although his own orthodoxy was never called into question and he disliked controversy, Davidson's methods as furthered by W. Robertson Smith provoked the latter's trial for heresy.

See J. Strahan, Andrew Bruce Davidson (1917).