Prideaux, Humphrey, Dd

Prideaux, Humphrey, D.D.

a learned English divine, noted as a historian, was born at Padstow, in Cornwall; May 3, 1648. He was educated first at Westminster School and later at Christ Church, Oxford, where he took his degree in 1672. While at the university he published the ancient inscriptions from the Arundelian Marbles, under the title of Marmorett Oxoniensia, which recommended him to the patronage of the lord chancellor Finch, afterwards earl of Nottingham, who gave him in 1679 a living near Oxford, and afterwards a prebend in Norwich cathedral. While there he became engaged in some severe contests with the Roman Catholics, the result of which was the publication of his work The Vallidiy of the Orders of the Church of England made out (1688). He also took an active part in resisting the arbitrary proceedings of James II which affected the interests of the Established Church. In 1688 he was promoted to the archdeaconry of Suffolk; but it was not without much consideration that he could bring himself to take the oath of allegiance to William and Mary. But when once decided, he acted in good faith, and treated all non-jurors with kindness and respect. In 1691, upon the death of Dr. Pococke, the Hebrew professorship at Oxford was offered to Dr. Prideaux, but lie refused it, though he afterwards repented of his refusal. In 1697 he published The Life of Mahomet, which was so well received that three editions of it were sold the first year. This Life was only a part of a greater work which he had long designed to write, and that was A History of the Saracen Empire, and with it The Decay and Fall of Christianity in the East; but, for certain reasons, lie dropped this design, and only published that part which contained The Life of Mahomet, to which lie annexed A Letter to the Deists, wherein he undertook to prove the truth of Christianity by contrasting it with the impostures of Mohammedanism. In 1702 he was made dean of Norwich. He died Nov. 1, 1724. He published, The Original Right of Tythes: — Directions for Church-wardens, and other small pieces for the service of the Church; also two tracts of Maimonides, with a Latin version and notes, under the title of De Jure Pauperis is et Peregrini apud Judaeos, as an introduction for Hebrew students to Rabbinical language. But Dr. Prideaux's great work was The Connection of the History of the Old and New Testament, the first part of which was published in 1715, the second in 1718. Both parts were received with the greatest approbation, and went through eight editions in London, besides two or three in Dublin, before the end of 1720. The best of the many excellent editions which have appeared of this work since the death of its author are probably the 22nd, with An Account of the Rabbinical Authorities by Rev. A. M'Caul, D.D. (1845, 2 vols. 8vo), and the 25th, which in addition, has An Account, etc., with notes and analysis, and Introductory Review by J. Talboys Wheeler (Lond. 1858, 2 vols. 8vo). The last named is by far the most desirable of all, as it contains, in addition to the excellent work done by M'Caul, the notes, etc. by Wheeler, who also edited Shuckford's Connection of Sacred and Profane History (1858, 2 vols. 8vo) and Russell's Collection of Sacred and Profane History (1865, 2 vols. 8vo), the three embracing the entire period from the Creation to the time of Christ. Prideaux's Co0nnection was translated into French (Amst. 1728, 6 vols. 12mo), and, with John Dierberghe's annotations, into Dutch. Le Clerc published a critical examination of it, which appeared in English (Lond. 1722, 8vo). "The Connection," says Orme, "contains a large mass of erudition, and accurate information on every topic of Jewish history and antiquities, and on all the links which connected that peculiar people with the surrounding nations. It is indispensable to the Biblical and interesting to the general scholar… Le Clerc's exceptions are not of great importance" (Bibl. Bib. s.v.). 'This history takes in the affairs of Egypt, Assyria, and all the other Eastern nations, as well as of the Jews; and likewise those of Greece and Rome, so far as was necessary for giving a distinct view of the completion of the prophecies which relate to the times comprehended in it. The author has also set in the clearest light some passages of profane history which before lay dispersed and buried in confusion, and there appears throughout the whole work such an amiable spirit of sincerity and candor as sufficiently atones as well for the few mistakes which escaped his diligence as for some weaknesses arising from his individual temperament. About three years before his death he presented his collection of Oriental books, more than three hundred in number, to the library of Clare Hall, Cambridge. Several of his posthumous Tracts and Letters, with a Life of Dr. Prideaux, the author of which is not named, were published in 1748 (8vo). Dr. Prideaux was tall, well-built, and of a strong and robust constitution. His qualities were very good, solid rather than lively, and his judgment excellent. He possessed great moral worth, and more ardent piety than was usual in his generation. As a writer he is clear, strong, intelligent, and learned. See, besides the works above mentioned, Biog. Brit. s.v.; Gentleman's Magazine, vol. 70; and especially the excellent article in Allibone, Dict. of Brit. and Amer. Authors, 2, 1681, 1682.

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