Lightfoot, John (1), D.D., a noted English divine and Hebraist, was born at Stoke-upon- Trent in 1602. He was educated first at a grammar-school at Morton Green, in Cheshire, and afterwards at Cambridge. He was remarkable, at Cambridge and afterwards, for his eloquence and his proficiency in Latin and Greek. Quitting the university, he became assistant at the well-known school of Repton, in Derbyshire. A year or two after he entered into orders, and settled at Norton-under-Hales, in Shropshire, where he began the study of the Hebrew, which ripened into the most familiar and consummate knowledge of the whole range of Biblical and Rabbinical literature. In 1627 he accepted the cure of Stone, in Staffordshire. Two years later he removed to Hornsey, in order to be near the library of Sion College, and later accepted the rectory of Ashford, in Staffordshire. Here he remained during the turbulent years which led to the death of Charles I, the establishment of the Commonwealth, and the temporary subversion of the Church of the Church of England. During the civil war he was identified with the Presbyterians, and became a member of the Assembly of Divines at Westminster, where he displayed great courage and learning in opposing many of those tenets which the divines were endeavoring to establish. While in London he was minister of St. Bartholomew's. In 1653 he was presented by Parliament with the living of Great Munden, in Hertfordshire. In 1655 he entered upon the office of vice-chancellor of Cambridge, to which he was chosen that year, having taken the degree of doctor in divinity in 1652. The living of Great Munden was given to Dr. Lightfoot by Parliament, and upon the restoration of Charles II it was bestowed upon another person. Through the influence of Sheldon, then bishop of London, Lightfoot was, however, reinstated in his living, as well as confirmed in the mastership of Catharine Hall, which he had offered to resign, he having previously complied with the terms of the Act of Uniformity. Through the influence of Sir Orlando Bridgeman he was appointed to a prebendal stall in the cathedral of Ely, where he died peaceably, December 6, 1675. "Lightfoot was a very learned Hebraist for his time, but he was not free from the unscienitific crotchets of the period, holding, for example, the inspiration of the vowel-points, etc. He has done good service to theology by pointing out and insisting upon the close connection between the Talmudical and Midrashic writings and the New Testament, which, to a certain extent, is only to be understood by illustrations from the anterior and contemporaneous religious literature' (Chambers). His object at first was "to produce one great and perfect work — a harmony of the four evangelists, with a commentary and prolegomena. But the little probability of his being able to publish at once so vast a work as he saw it would become were he to carry out the idea in its completeness — in an age when brevity was essential to everything which issued from the press — determined him to give to the world from time to time the result of his labors in separate treatises. The subject matter of these treatises may be classed under the general heads of chronology, chorography, investigation of original texts and versions, examination of Babbinical comments and paraphrases" (Kitto). Lightfoot's works are: Erubhin, or Miscellanies, Christian, and Judaical (1629): — A few and new Observations upon the Book of Genesis (1642): — A Handful of Gleanings out of the Book of Exodus (1643): — The Harmony of the four Evlangelists among themselves and with the O.T. (1644): — A Commentary upon the Acts of the Apostles, 1st part (1645): — The Harmony, 2d part (no date): — The Temple Service in the Days of our Savior (1649): — The Harmony, 3d part (1649): — The Temple (1650): — Horce Hebraicae et Talmnudicae (1658): — Horae, etc., upon the Gospel of St. Mark (1661; new ed. by Reverend R. Gandell, Oxf 1859, 4 volumes, 8vo): — Jewish and Talmudical Exercitations upon St. Luke: — Jewish, etc., upon St. John: — Horace Hebraicae, etc., Acts of the Apostles: — Horae, etc., upon the first Epistle to the Corinthians. During the latter years of his life he contributed the most valuable assistance to the authors of Walton's Polyglot Bible, Castell's Heptaglot Lexicon, and Pool's Symnopsis Criticorum. His works were published entire, (1) with a preface by Dr. Bright and a life by the editor, John Strype, at London in 1684 (2 volumes, fol.); (2) at Amsterdam in 1686 (2 volumes, fol.); (3) at Utrecht, by John Leusden, in 1699 (3 volumes, fol.); and (4) by Pitman, at London, in from 1822-25 (13 volumes, 8vo), which is the best edition, and contains a very elaborate biography of Lightfoot. Dr. Adam Clarke says: "In Biblical criticism I consider Lightfoot the first of all English writers; and in this I
include his learning, his judgment, and his usefulness." See, besides the biographies connected with the various collections of his works, Brevis Descriptio Vitce J. Lightfoot (1699); Kitto, Cyclop. Bib. Lit. volume 2, s.v.; Herzog, Real-Encyklopädie, volume 8, s.v.