Charles Hodge

1797-1878. Leading American theologian of the nineteenth century. Born in Philadelphia, son of an army surgeon, he was educated at Princeton, graduating from the college in 1815 and from the seminary in 1819. His theological studies under Archibald Alexander* determined his life-work. He became an instructor at Princeton Seminary in 1820, and remained there for the rest of his life, except for two years' study in France and Germany (1826-28). He was professor of oriental and biblical literature (1822-40), then professor of theology. His own theology was mainly that of the Westminster Confession with obvious traces of scholastic Calvinism, notably from Turretine. His thought was governed by a high view of verbal inspiration and infallibility. While orthodox Calvinism was declining in American thought generally, and the evolutionary idea was beginning to exert unusual power, Hodge unswervingly defended a supernaturally inspired Bible and thereby placed his stamp upon what came to be called “Princeton theology.” This had a powerful influence, not only in his own Old School Presbyterian circles, but in other churches as well.

His writings carried his influence beyond the 3,000 students he taught during a half-century. He started the Biblical Repertory in 1825 (later called the Biblical Repertory and Theological Review, and after 1836 the Biblical Repertory and Princeton Review) and edited it for more than forty years. His first book, A Commentary on the Epistle to the Romans (1835; 19th ed., 1880), established his scholarship. Among his later works none exerted greater influence than his Systematic Theology (3 vols., 1872-73).

He also held a commanding position in the Presbyterian Church. He was moderator of the general assembly (Old School) in 1846, and a prominent member of the missionary and educational boards. In the controversy of 1837 he opposed the New School views of doctrine and polity. When division came, he supported it.

See A.A. Hodge. The Life of Charles Hodge (1880); and C.A. Salmond, Princetonia: Charles and A.A. Hodge (1888).