Briggs, Charles Augustus

Briggs, Charles Augustus,

1841–1913, American clergyman, theologian, and educator, b. New York City, studied at the Univ. of Virginia, Union Theological Seminary, and the Univ. of Berlin. From 1875 until his death he was a member of the faculty of Union Theological Seminary, serving as professor of Hebrew and the cognate languages. In 1890 he was appointed to the chair of biblical theology. The address on the authority of Holy Scripture that he gave at that time caused his trial for heresy (1892) before the New York presbytery. Although acquitted, Dr. Briggs was suspended (1893) from the Presbyterian ministry by the General Assembly; thereupon Union Theological Seminary severed its relations with the Assembly. He later (1900) entered the Episcopal ministry. Among his many books are A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Book of Psalms (2 vol., 1906) and Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (with Francis Brown and S. R. Driver, completed 1906).


See his Inaugural Address and Defense (first printed in 1891 and 1893, repr. 1972); C. E. Hatch, The Charles A. Briggs Heresy Trial (1969).

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Briggs, Charles Augustus

(1841–1913) Protestant clergyman, educator; born in New York City. The son of a prosperous businessman, he served briefly with a New York infantry regiment on the outbreak of the Civil War, then entered Union Theological Seminary. In 1874 he became professor of Hebrew there. Conservative Presbyterians objected to his scholarly work in Old Testament criticism; found guilty in a heresy trial in 1890, he was suspended from the ministry. He later took orders in the Episcopal Church and was restored to his professorship at Union.
The Cambridge Dictionary of American Biography, by John S. Bowman. Copyright © Cambridge University Press 1995. Reproduced with permission.