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Hastings, James


HASTINGS, JAMES (18521922), was a Scottish Presbyterian minister and compiler and editor of voluminous works dealing with Christian texts and the subject matter of religions. Born in Aberdeen, Scotland, Hastings attended the University of Aberdeen and was ordained a Presbyterian minister in 1884; he later held pastorates in Free Church parishes in Kincardineshire and Dundee. Founder of the Expository Times, he is best known for his indefatigable zeal as an editor of numerous works, which may be grouped into four types.

First are those comprising articles dealing with the texts of early Christianity (e.g., A Dictionary of the Bible, 18981904; A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, 19061908; and the Dictionary of the Apostolic Church, 19151918). Exegetical and expository in character and intended to provide students of biblical literature with the most recent findings of scholarship, the articles in these volumes were written by established (largely theologically conservative) scholars in command of the most recent methods of historical and textual criticism and philological analysis and exegesis, and their work represented a distinct advance in this field. Second are the works that are primarily homiletical in character (e.g., Great Texts of the Bible, 1914, and Greater Men and Women of the Bible, 1914). Third is a series of works on Christian doctrines, including the Christian Doctrine of Prayer (1915), The Christian Doctrine of Faith (1919), and The Christian Doctrine of Peace (1922).

Fourth is the renowned Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics (13 vols., 19081926). This work, grand in vision and impressive in accomplishment, represents a scholarly achievement of the first importance. Intended to provide an account of the various aspects of religion (beliefs, rituals, philosophies, theologies, ethics) among peoples the world over and in all ages, the encyclopedia became a reference work with no compeer for more than half a century. Exemplary of the late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century interest in producing encyclopedic collections of knowledge in various fields, the encyclopedia became both a resource for reviewing the results of scholarship concerning the study of religion and an impetus for the extension of knowledge of peoples and cultures the world over, thus transcending the prior provincialism of much of Western scholarship.


Among the many works edited by James Hastings, he is chiefly remembered for the following publications.

A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels. 2 vols. New York, 19061908.

Dictionary of the Apostolic Church. 2 vols. Edinburgh and New York, 19151918. This contains articles by one hundred different scholars treating the texts and history of the Christian community to the end of the first century.

A Dictionary of the Bible: Dealing with Its Language, Literature and Contents, Including the Biblical Theology. 5 vols. New York, 18981904.

Encyclopaedia of Religion and Ethics. 13 vols. Edinburgh and New York, 19081926.

The Great Texts of the Bible. 20 vols. Edinburgh, 19101915.

New Sources

Dempster, J. A. H. "Incomparable Encyclopaedist: The Life and Work of Dr. James Hastings." Expository Times 100 (1988): 48.

F. Stanley Lusby (1987)

Revised Bibliography

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