Brown, Driver, and—Briggs the Heretic

posted by Kris (with a "k") page1109-1968px-A_Hebrew_and_English_Lexicon_(Brown-Driver-Briggs).djvu

You know that cheap but handy lexicon you bought when you first started your Hebrew studies—yeah, Brown-Driver-Briggs, or BDB as we all affectionately refer to it. I didn't know this before, but just read that Charles Briggs got himself excommunicated from the Presbyterian church in 1893 for a number of heretical beliefs he wouldn't stay quiet about. Who would have thought that one of the great lexicographers of the past had such a checkered past?

Here's some of reasons he was kicked out. I'll let you decide if they're worthy of heresy and getting the boot.

  • Moses is not the author of the Pentateuch
  • Isaiah, similarly, isn't the author of at least half of the book that's got his name on it
  • Scripture is not inerrant
  • redemption is a process that extends into the world to come

Some of these heretical views are more humorous than egregious, at least to me. But over all, it's sobering to think back on some of the beliefs you could get in trouble for; but then again, some of these (could) still get you fired, or at least raised eyebrows. At the end of the day, I guess there's really nothing new under the sun.

I leave you with this stinging quote from Briggs:

“Any man or church that refuses to accept the discoveries of science or the truths of philosophy or the facts of history or the new light that breaks forth from the Word of God to the devout student on the pretense that it conflicts with his orthodoxy or the orthodox standards of his church, prefers the traditions of man to the truth."

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