Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer -- By: Henry S. Burrage

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 032:125 (Jan 1875)
Article: Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer
Author: Henry S. Burrage


Heinrich August Wilhelm Meyer

Rev. Henry S. Burrage

The year 1822 marks the beginning of a new era in Germany in the history of the interpretation of the New Testament scriptures. Previously, even on the part of the best exegetical scholars, there had been in their study of the sacred word almost a total disregard of grammatical details. The few exceptions are worthy of mention. The first to call attention to the peculiarities of the New Testament diction was the philologian Sal. Glassius of Jena († 1656) in his Philologia Sacra, the third book of which is entitled Grammatica Sacra, and the fourth Grammaticae Sacrae Appendix; a work, however, since regarded as of little value. In 1650 appeared the Dialectologia Sacra by Casper Wyss († 1659), Professor in the Gymnasium in Zurich, in which was presented a more exact treatment of the idioms of the New Testament, with an estimate of grammatical Hebraisms very moderate for that time. George Pasor, Professor of Greek at Franeker († 1637), author of a small lexicon of the New Testament, prepared a New Testament Grammar, which, in 1655, after his death, was published by his son, Matthias Pasor, Professor of Theology at Gröningen († 1658), who added to the work improvements of his own.

These, for many years, were the standard text-books with the few who were interested in the study of New Testament Greek. At length, in 1815, Ph. H. Haab, pastor at Schweigern in Würtemberg († 1833), published at Tübingen a Hebrew-Greek Grammar, of which Bengel said, “The work has been elaborated with so much industry, judgment, and accuracy, and evinces so minute and extensive a scholarship, as must obtain for it the most favorable reception among all

friends to sound New Testament interpretation.” By others, however, a less favorable judgment was pronounced. One critic, supposed to be De Wette, concluded a review of Haab’s Grammar with these words: “Seldom have we met a work which we were obliged to declare so complete a failure as this, and regarding the character of which the public should be so emphatically warned.” And this seems to have been the general verdict of the best scholars into whose hands Haab’s Grammar came.

There was one even then, however, who, better qualified for this task, had devoted himself to grammatical studies, especially with reference to the Greek of the New Testament, and was soon to present to the world the results of his investigations. We refer, of course, to George Benedict Winer of Leipzig, who, in 1822, published the first edition of his Grammar of the New Testament Diction. It was his object, he tells us,1 “to put some check on the unbridle...

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