William Robertson Smith

1846-1894. Scottish Old Testament scholar. A son of the manse, he was educated in Scotland and Germany and in 1870 appointed professor of Oriental languages and Old Testament exegesis at the Free Church College, Aberdeen. Seven years later he was suspended after contributing to the Encyclopaedia Britannica articles that allegedly undermined belief in the inspiration of Scripture. The charges were dropped in 1880, but renewed attacks on him, coupled with an uncompromising spirit that was the despair of his friends, led to dismissal from the college in 1881. He subsequently became editor-in-chief of the Encyclopaedia Britannica and professor of Arabic at Cambridge (1883- 94), where he also served for a time as chief librarian. His books included The Old Testament in the Jewish Church (1881), The Prophets of Israel (1882), and Lectures on the Religion of the Semites (1889).