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EZRA ABBOT (1819-1884)

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Originally appearing in Volume V01, Page 23 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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EZRA ABBOT (1819-1884), American biblical scholar, was born at Jackson, Waldo county, Maine, on the 28th of April 1819. He graduated at Bowdoin College in 184o; and in 1847, at the request of Prof. Andrews Norton, went to Cambridge, where he was principal of a public school until 1856. He was assistant librarian of Harvard University from 1856 to 1872, and planned and perfected an alphabetical card catalogue, combining many of the advantages of the ordinary dictionary catalogues with the grouping of the minor topics under more general heads, which is characteristic of a systematic catalogue. From 1872 until his death he was Bussey Professor of New Testament Criticism and Interpretation in the Harvard Diyinity School. His studies were chiefly in Oriental languages and the textual criticism of the New Testament, though his work as a bibliographer showed such results as the exhaustive list of writings (5300 in all) on the doctrine of the future life, appended to W: R. Alger's History of the Doctrine of a Future Life, as it has prevailed in all Nations and Ages (1862), and published separately in 1864. His publications, though always of the most thorough and scholarly character, were to a large extent dispersed in the pages of reviews, dictionaries, concordances, texts edited by others, Unitarian controversial treatises, &c.; but he took a more conspicuous and more personal part in the preparation (with the Baptist scholar, Horatio B. Hackett) of the enlarged American edition of Dr (afterwards Sir) William Smith's Dictionary of the Bible (1867-187o), to which he contributed more than 400 articles besides greatly improving the bibliographical completeness of the work; was an efficient member of the American revision committee employed in connexion with the Revised Version (1881-1885) of the King James Bible; and aided in the preparation of Caspar Rene Gregory's Prolegomena to the revised Greek New Testament of Tischendorf. His principal single production, representing his scholarly method and conservative conclusions, was The Author-ship of the Fourth Gospel: External Evidences (188o; second edition, by J. H. Thayer, with other essays, 1889), originally a lecture, and in spite of the compression due to its form, up to that time probably the ablest defence, based on external evidence, of the Johannine authorship, and certainly the cornpletest treatment of the relation of Justin Martyr to this gospel. Abbot, though a layman, received the degree of S. T. D. from Harvard in 1872, and that of D.D. from Edinburgh in 1884. He died in Cambridge, Massachusetts, on the 21st of March 1884. See S. J. Barrows, Ezra Abbot (Cambridge, Mass., 1884). ABBOT, GEORGE (1562-1633), English divine, archbishop of Canterbury, was born on the 19th of October 1562, at Guildford in Surrey, where his father was a cloth-worker. He studied, and then taught, at Balliol College, Oxford, was chosen master of University College in 1597, and appointed dean of Winchester in 1600. He was three times vice-chancellor of the university, and took a leading part in preparing the authorized version of the New Testament. In 16o8 he went to Scotland with the earl of Dunbar to arrange for a union between the churches of England and Scotland. He so pleased the king (James I.) in this affair that he was made bishop of Lichfield and Coventry in 1609, was translated to the see of London a month afterwards, and in less than a year was raised to that of Canterbury. His puritan instincts frequently led him not only into harsh treatment of Roman Catholics, but also into courageous resistance to the royal will, e.g. when he opposed the scandalous divorce suit of the Lady Frances Howard against the earl of Essex, and again in 1618 when, at Croydon, he forbade the reading of the declaration permitting Sunday sports. He was naturally, therefore, a promoter of the match between the elector palatine and° the Princess Elizabeth, and a firm opponent of the projected marriage of the prince of Wales with the infanta of Spain. This policy brought upon him the hatred of Laud (with whom he had previously come into collision at Oxford) and the court, though the king himself never forsook him. In 1622, while hunting in Lord Zouch's park at Bramshill, Hampshire, a bolt from his cross-bow aimed at a deer happened to strike one of the keepers, who died within an hour, and Abbot was so greatly distressed by the event that he fell into a state of settled melancholy. His enemies maintained that the fatal issue of this accident disqualified him for his office, and argued that, though the homicide was involuntary, the sport of hunting which had led to it was one in which no clerical person could lawfully indulge. The king had to refer the matter to a commission of ten, though he said that "an angel might have miscarried after this sort." The commission was equally divided, and the king gave a casting vote in the archbishop's favour, though signing also a formal pardon or dispensation. After this the arch-bishop seldom appeared at the council, chiefly on account of his infirmities. He attended the king constantly, however, in his last illness, and performed the ceremony of the coronation of Charles I. His refusal to license the assize sermon preached by Dr Robert Sibthorp at Northampton on the 22nd of February 1626-1627, in which cheerful obedience was urged to the king's demand for a general loan, and the duty proclaimed of absolute non-resistance even to the most arbitrary royal commands, led Charles to deprive him of his functions as primate, putting them in commission. The need of summoning parliament, however, soon brought about a nominal restoration of the archbishop's powers. His presence being unwelcome at court, he lived from that time in retirement, leaving Laud and his party in undisputed ascendancy. He died at Croydon on the 5th of August 1633, and was buried at Guildford, his native place, where he had endowed a hospital with lands to the value of £300 a year. Abbot was a conscientious prelate, though narrow in view and often harsh towards both separatists and Romani*ts. He wrote a large number of works, the most interesting being his discursive Exposition on the Prophet Jonah (1600), which was reprinted in 1845. His Geography, or a Brief Description of the Whole World (1599), passed through numerous editions. The best account of him is in S. R. Gardiner's History of England.
End of Article: EZRA ABBOT (1819-1884)
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