“Bibliotheca Sacra”: Its Beginning in 1843 -- By: George G. Houghton

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 126:503 (Jul 1969)
Article: “Bibliotheca Sacra”: Its Beginning in 1843
Author: George G. Houghton

“Bibliotheca Sacra”: Its Beginning in 1843

George G. Houghton

[George C. Houghton, Graduate Student, Dallas Theological Seminary.]

This year marks the 125th anniversary of Bibliotheca Sacra. As the oldest theological journal in America still being published,1 it continues to represent conservative biblical scholarship in a day of widespread theological compromise. It would be well, then, to examine the beginning days of the journal to see what kind of foundation was laid which has enabled Bibliotheca Sacra to stand for biblical truth throughout these many years.

Its Original Purpose

When Bibliotheca Sacra was begun in 1843, it was subtitled “Tracts and Essays on Topics Connected with Biblical Literature and Theology.” The first editor informed his readers that this new journal was “intended to exhibit a full and thorough discussion of the various topics which may at any time be taken up, so as to be of permanent value as a work of reference.”2 Thus the editor sought to begin a journal which would contain extended articles of biblical and theological interest. While not specifically stated, its contents indicates that the audience it would serve was primarily one which was theologically literate, rather than the general Christian public.

The First Editor

The editor of this new journal was Edward Robinson. He had been on the faculty of Andover Theological Seminary in Massachusetts from 1823 to 1826 as an instructor in the

Hebrew language and literature, but left to pursue graduate studies in Europe (at Göttingen, Halle, and Berlin). During his study abroad he formed friendships with such scholars as Gesenius, Thorluck, Rodiger, Neander, and Ritter. Upon his return to America in 1830 he became professor of Biblical Literature and Librarian at Andover Seminary, resigning three years later because of poor health.3 He accepted the position of Professor of Biblical Literature at Union Theological Seminary, New York City, in 1837, with the condition that he first be allowed to spend some time in Palestine studying the geography of the Holy Land. The results of his study are incorporated in his monumental work entitled Biblical Researches in Palestine, Mount Sinai, and Arabia Petraea (published in 1841 in London, Boston, and Halle).

On his return to America, he began his teaching duties at Union Seminary, and, in 1843, he edited the first volume of Bibliotheca Sacra.4 Because of pr...

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