James Strong (1822-94): Biblical Scholar & Educator

287px-James_Strong_theologian_-_Brady-HandyMost Christians know of Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible, but few probably know of the man behind it. He was a Methodist biblical scholar and educator who was born in New York City on August 14, 1822. After graduating from Wesleyan University in Middletown, Connecticut, he taught ancient languages in the Troy Conference Academy in West Poultney, Vermont for two years (1844-46). Withdrawing from teaching for two years, he served as president of the Flushing Railroad Company. He was also active in civic affairs and during these two years he continued his study of ancient languages. In 1853, he again entered teaching as a professor of biblical literature and acting president of Troy University (1858-63), professor of exegetical theology at Drew Theological Seminary at Madison, New Jersey  from 1868 until his retirement in 1893. He was a prolific author: English Harmony and Exposition of the Gospels; Harmony of the Gospels in the Greek of the Received Text and Sketches of Jewish Life in the First Century. His most important work was the Cyclopedia of Biblical, Theological, and Ecclesiastical Literature, with two supplementary volumes.

His most well known work is his Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible first published in 1890. It was the fruit of 35 years labor by Dr. Strong and more than 100 colleagues, his volume has since become the most widely used concordance ever compiled from the King James Version, still the standard English version of the Bible. Assembled without the aid of computers or other electronic devices, Strong’s has stood the test of time and has confirmed Professor Strong’s vision for a complete, simple, and accurate concordance that would become “a permanent standard for purposes of reference.”

He was conservative in his theology. He strongly defended the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch and contended that there was only one Isaiah. He also supported the theory that the apostle Paul was the author of Hebrews. He was also a member of the Anglo-American Bible Revision Committee.

Professor James Strong passed away on August 7, 1894 in Round Lake, NY at age 71.

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