DAVIDSON, SAMUEL ° (1806–1898), clergyman and Bible critic. Born in Northern Ireland, he was ordained as a Presbyterian minister in 1833 and was appointed the first professor of Bible criticism at the Royal College of Belfast (1835–41). After becoming a Congregationalist, he went to Lancashire Independent College, Manchester, in 1843, as professor of biblical criticism and Oriental languages. As a result of his visits to Germany, where he met and was influenced by J. Neander, H. *Hupfeld, and other leading Bible critics, Davidson translated Julius Fuerst's Hebrew and Chaldee Lexicon of the Old Testament (1867). However, he fell into disfavor with the college authorities because of his liberal views on the Bible. Despite this, he published The Text of the Old Testament Considered (1856, 18592), a commentary on the Bible (especially the Pentateuch) pioneering new theories of Higher Criticism. The book was attacked by the Lancashire College committee, mainly because it denied the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. After much controversy, he resigned the following year and retired to teach in a Cheshire school. In 1862 he moved to London where he was appointed Scripture examiner in London University and also served on the Old Testament Revision Committee. Among his major works on the Bible are The Hebrew Text of the Old Testament Revised (1855), in which he examined the Hebrew text and ancient translation; Introduction to the Old Testament (3 vols., 1862–63); and On a Fresh Revision of the Old Testament (1873), originally written for Encyclopaedia Britannica, but published separately since, according to Davidson, the original had been "mutilated" by the editors. His autobiography and diary were published in 1899 by his daughter Anne S. Davidson.
J. Thompson, Lancashire Independent College 1843–1893, Jubilee Memorial.
[Mervyn M. Lewis]