Macknight, James, Dd

Macknight, James, D.D., an eminent Scotch divine, was born in Ayrshire in 1721. He studied in the University of Glasgow, but, like many of the Presbyterian divines both of his own country and of England, went abroad, and finished his studies at Leyden. On his return he entered the ministry in the Scotch Church (in 1753) as pastor of Maybole, in Ayrshire. Here he spent sixteen years, during which time he prepared three works: A Harmony of the Gospels (Land. 1756, 2 vols. 4to), with copious illustrations, being, in fact, a life of Christ, embracing everything which the evangelists have related concerning him: — A new Translation of the Epistles (published in 1795 in 4 vols. 4to, and later in 6 vols. 8vo): — and Truth of Gospel History (1763, 4to). These works were favorably received, and are to this day highly esteemed. The Harmony has been repeatedly printed, and to the later editions there are added several dissertations on curious points in the history or antiquities of the Jews. The theology of them is what is called moderately orthodox. For these his valuable services to sacred literature Dr. Macknight received the rewards in the power of the Presbyterian Church to give. The degree of D.D. was conferred upon him by the University of Edinburgh. In 1769 he was removed from Maybole to the more desirable parish of Jedburgh, and in 1772 he became one of the ministers at Edinburgh. Here he continued for the remainder of his life, useful in the ministry and an ornament of the Church. He died Jan. 13, 1800. Of Dr. Macknight's translation of the epistles, universally regarded as his best production, Horne says that it is "a work of theological labor not often paralleled. If we cannot always coincide with the author in opinion, we can always praise his diligence, his learning, and his piety-qualities which confer no trifling rank on any scriptural interpreter or commentator." Dr. W. L. Alexander, however, is not quite so commendatory of Dr. Macknight's scholarship: "This work, which was the result of thirty years' labor, soon obtained and long kept a high reputation. Of late years it has perhaps sunk into unmerited neglect, for there is much in it well deserving the attention of the Biblical student. Its greatest defects are traceable to two causes — the author's imperfect knowledge of the original languages of the Bible, and the want of fixed hermeneutical principles. In tracing out, however, the connection of a passage, especially of an argumentative kind, he often shows great ability." See Life, by his son, prefixed to the Epistles (in the editions since 1806); Kitto, Bibl. Cyclop. s.v.; English Cyclop.

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