A Dictionary of the Holy Bible

A Dictionary of the Holy Bible


A Dictionary of the Holy Bible 1759

By John Brown

Printed In London For J. Beecroft, W. Strahan, T. Trye, J. Rivington and J. Fletcher, W. Owen, R. Baldwin, W. Johnston, J. Richardson, S. Crowder and Co. P. Davey and B. Law, T. Longman, T. Field, E. Dilly, B. Collins, and R. Goadby.

The Volumes are in Very Good Condition bound in tortoiseshell english calf, with the spines divided into six compartments by five raised bands, with red morocco letter-pieces in the second compartment from the top. Externally the boards and spines are lightly scuffed in general, with label off the third volume, hinges showing splits but intact, heads and tails chipped a bit, and with the board corners bumped a bit. Internally the leaves are generally clean and well margined, with some margins trimmed close, the blank before the title cropped at the corner in each volume, and with some mild toning or foxing on certain leaves, and little in the way of stains or tears otherwise.
The Volumes are Complete in All Respects The volumes are paginated as follows: Vol. I; [2], [i]-iv, [1]-412. Vol. I; [ii], [415]-898. Vol. I; [ii], 899-1312. The volumes collate as follows: Vol. I; A3, B-2C8, 2D6 : Vol. II; [A]1, [2D]7-8, 2E-2R8, 2S1, 2T-3L8, 3M7: Vol. III; [X]1, 3M1[8], 3N-4O8, 4P6. Each volume measures about 21 cm. By 13.5 cm. By 2.5-3 cm. Each leaf measures about 205 mm. By 125 mm. See below for pagination & dimensions.

Title -A Dictionary of the Holy Bible

John Brown of Haddington was a Scottish minister and author, born at Carpow, in Perthshire. He was almost entirely self-educated, having acquired a knowledge of ancient languages while employed as a shepherd. By his own intense application to study, before he was twenty years of age, he had obtained an intimate knowledge of the Latin, Greek, and Hebrew languages, with the last of which he was critically conversant. He was also acquainted with the French, Italian, German, Arabic, Persian, Syriac, and Ethiopic. His early career was varied, and he was in succession a travelling merchant, a soldier in the Edinburgh garrison in 1745, and a school-master. He was, from 1750 till his death, minister of the Burgher branch of the Secession Church in Haddington. From 1786 he was professor of divinity for his denomination, and was mainly responsible for the training of its ministry. He gained a just reputation for learning and piety. The best of his many works are his Self-Interpreting Bible and Dictionary of the Bible, works that were long very popular.

In 1758 he published ‘An Help for the Ignorant. Being an Essay towards an Easy Explication of the Westminster Confession of Faith and Catechism, composed for the young ones of his own congregation.’ This ‘easy explication’ was a volume of about 400 pages. In it he had taken occasion to affirm that Christ’s righteousness, though in itself infinitely valuable, is only imparted to believers according to their need, and not so as to render them infinitely righteous. In the following year ‘A brief Dissertation concerning the Righteousness of Christ’ expounded the same view. He had branded the doctrine he opposed as ‘antinomian and familistic blasphemy,’ but notwithstanding it was defended by various anti-burgher divines, who retorted on him the charges of ‘heresy,’ ‘blasphemy,’ and ‘familism,’ accused him of ‘gross and palpable misrepresentation,’ lamented the ‘poisonous fruit,’ and dwelt on the ‘glaring absurdity’ of his doctrine (see Doctrine of the Unity and Uniformity of Christ’s Surety righteousness viewed and vindicated, &c. By Rev. John Dalziel (Edin. 1760), pp. 72–4). This bitter controversy did not prevent Brown from doing acts of practical kindness to various anti-burgher brethren. He continued to write diligently, and his name became more widely known. In 1768 he was appointed professor in divinity to the Associate burgher Synod. A great deal of work, but no salary, was attached to this office; the students studied under Brown at Haddington during a session of nine weeks each year (McKerrow’s History, p. 787).

In 1778 his best-known work, the ‘Self-interpreting Bible,’ was published at Edinburgh in two volumes. Its design, he explains in the preface, is to present the labours of the best commentators ‘ in a manner that might best comport with the ability and leisure of the poorer and labouring part of mankind, and especially to render the oracles of God their own interpreter.’ Thus the work contains history, chronology, geography, summaries, explanatory notes, and reflections—in short, everything that the ordinary reader might be supposed to want. It is a library in one volume. Brown is always ready to give what he believes to be the only possible explanation of each verse, and to draw its only possible practical lesson therefrom. The style throughout is clear and vigorous. The book at once acquired a popularity which among a large class it has never lost. It has been read widely among the English-speaking nations, as well as in Wales and the Scottish highlands.

His numerous other works strengthened his reputation, but none brought him any profit. One of his publishers, ‘of his own good will,’ presented him with about 40l., but this he lent and lost to another. His salary from his church was for a long time only 40l. per annum, and it was never more than 50l. Only a very small sum came to him from other sources. The stern self-denial that was a frequent feature in the early Scottish household enabled him to bring up a large family, and meet all the calls of necessity and duty on this income. ‘Notwithstanding my eager desire for books, I chose rather to want them, and much more other things, than run into debt,’ he says. At least one-tenth of his small means was set apart for works of charity.

Pagination & Dimensions

he volumes are paginated as follows: Vol. I; [2], [i]-iv, [1]-412. Vol. I; [ii], [415]-898. Vol. I; [ii], 899-1312. The volumes collate as follows: Vol. I; A3, B-2C8, 2D6 : Vol. II; [A]1, [2D]7-8, 2E-2R8, 2S1, 2T-3L8, 3M7: Vol. III; [X]1, 3M1[8], 3N-4O8, 4P6. Each volume measures about 21 cm. By 13.5 cm. By 2.5-3 cm. Each leaf measures about 205 mm. By 125 mm.

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