Thursday, February 12, 2009

Scottish Puritan Commentary Series

N.B. The use of the term 'Puritan' as applied to Scottish Presbyterians in the Covenanter era is discussed ably by Margo Todd, "The problem of Scotland's Puritans," in John Coffey and Paul C.H. Lim, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Puritanism (2008).

Robert Rollock (1555-1598) was a Scottish Presbyterian among whose works are found to include certain commentaries on books of the Bible, such as Commentaries on the Epistles to the Ephesians (1590) and Thessalonians (1598) and Hebrews (1605), the book of Daniel (1591), the Gospel of St. John (1599) and some of the Psalms (1598), an analysis of the Epistle to the Romans (1594), and Galatians (1602). Later, his pupil, Robert Boyd (1578-1627) wrote a massive commentary on Ephesians. David Dickson (1583-1662), Scottish Presbyterian and co-author (with James Durham) of The Sum of Saving Knowledge, then conceived a project whose aim was to provide a series of commentaries on books of the Bible which could be profitably read by the average layman.

Andrew Woolsey, Biographical Introduction to the Select Works of Robert Rollock (2008 ed.), p. 21, quoting editor W.M. Gunn and Iain Murray:

"It is Rollock's greatest glory that he introduced into Scotland the expository system, which had already so much benefited religion on the Continent." Both in speaking to the students and in his pulpit ministry, Rollock systematically expounded books of the Bible. Studies like these formed the substance of the commentaries that were later published. I think it is also safe to say that, through the influence of Robert Boyd, they provided ongoing inspiration for the series of commentaries produced later in the seventeenth century by David Dickson, George Hutcheson, James Ferguson, and Alexander Nisbet -- which, as Iain Murry says, "for many years served to make the study of the Bible a common household employment."

Iain Murray, The Puritan Hope, pp. 26-27:

One more future leader who as a regent, or professor, in the university was associated with Boyd was David Dickson. It is to Dickson that the English-speaking world owes the conception of a whole series of commentaries which for many years served to make the study of the Bible a common household employment. Boyd produced a Commentary on the Epistle to the Ephesians of stupendous size; as James Walker writes, this ‘led to the calamitous result of a great divine being buried under his own erudition’. The series of popular volumes which Dickson envisaged avoided this pitfall as the subsequent reprinting of a number of them has proved. To the series Dickson contributed expositions of Hebrews, 1635, Matthew, 1647, and Psalms, 1653—1654. George Hutcheson followed with rich folios on The Minor Prophets, 1653—1655, John, 1657, and Job, 1669. James Fergusson, ‘after the pattern held forth by those reverend brethren, Mr. David Dickson and Mr. George Hutcheson’, added his Brief Exposition of the Epistles of Paul (Galatians to Thessalonians), and Alexander Nisbet supplied A Brief Exposition of the First and Second Epistles General of Peter. The manuscript of Samuel Rutherford’s work on Isaiah was lost and never printed. James Durham’s volumes on The Song of Solomon, Revelation, and Job, were not designed as part of the same series, being published posthumously, as was the fine work of John Brown of Wamphray on Romans. ‘Nor are Dickson and his fellow-interpreters to be despised,’ writes James Walker. ‘They want the scholarship of the present day, though they were scholars. But though they want our scholarship, they were, more than our equals in theology.’ C. H. Spurgeon reached a similar verdict in his Commenting and Commentaries.

Here is a list of all the works produced in (what now may be referred to as) the Scottish Puritan Commentary Series:

Job -- James Durham, George Hutcheson
Psalms -- David Dickson
Psalm 130 -- George Hutcheson (sermons)
Proverbs -- Robert Blair (MSS, never published)
Ecclesiastes -- Alexander Nisbet
Song of Solomon -- James Durham
Isaiah -- Samuel Rutherford (lost, never published)
Hosea -- George Hutcheson
Joel -- George Hutcheson
Amos -- George Hutcheson
Obadiah -- George Hutcheson
Jonah -- George Hutechson
Michah -- George Hutcheson
Nahum -- George Hutcheson
Habakkuk -- George Hutcheson
Zephaniah -- George Hutcheson
Haggai -- George Hutcheson
Zechariah -- George Hutcheson
Malachi -- George Hutcheson
Matthew -- David Dickson
John -- George Hutcheson
Romans -- David Dickson, John Brown of Wamphray
1 Corinthians -- David Dickson
2 Corinthians -- David Dickson
Galatians -- David Dickson, James Ferguson
Ephesians -- David Dickson, James Ferguson
Philippians -- David Dickson, James Ferguson
Colossians -- David Dickson, James Ferguson
1 Thessalonians -- David Dickson, James Ferguson
2 Thessalonians -- David Dickson, James Ferguson
1 Timothy -- David Dickson
2 Timothy -- David Dickson
Titus -- David Dickson
Philemon -- David Dickson
Hebrews -- David Dickson
James -- David Dickson
1 Peter -- David Dickson, Alexander Nisbet
2 Peter -- David Dickson, Alexander Nisbet
1 John -- David Dickson
2 John -- David Dickson
3 John -- David Dickson
Jude -- David Dickson
Revelation -- James Durham

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