Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Jones, Jeremiah

JONES, JEREMIAH (1693–1724), independent tutor and biblical critic, was born in Wales in 1693. His father was David Jones of Llangollen, who married at Swansea, 15 Aug. 1687, Maria, eldest daughter of Samuel Jones (1628–1697) [q. v.], and became, in 1696, pastor of the independent congregation at Shrewsbury, where he died in 1718. Jeremiah was educated by his uncle, Samuel Jones (1680–1719) [q. v.], at Gloucester (where in 1711 he was a fellow-student with Secker) and at Tewkesbury. His first settlement was as minister of the independent congregations at Market Harborough, Leicestershire, and Cold Ashby, Northamptonshire. In 1719 he succeeded George Fownes as minister of the independent congregation at Nailsworth in the parish of Avening, Gloucestershire, and at the same time took charge of his deceased uncle's students, and removed them from Tewkesbury. Between 1719 and 1722 four students were sent to him by the presbyterian board. His popularity as a preacher is shown by the enlargement of his meeting-house, and by the attendance of persons of station. His character as a scholar made him known beyond his own denomination. A hard student, he was of social disposition, and took pleasure in playing bowls. He died prematurely in 1724.

Jones is best remembered for his admirable investigation of the grounds for attributing canonicity to the received books of the New Testament, to the exclusion of others. His treatise on this subject was long unique, and for its time exhaustive. Though now superseded in details, its breadth of treatment and fulness of materials render it still valuable. It was entitled ‘A New and Full Method of Settling the Canonical Authority of the New Testament,’ &c., 1726, 8vo, 2 vols., was left ready for the press at his death. A third volume, 1727, 8vo, contains the special application of his method to the Gospels and Acts, with a reprint of an earlier publication. The three volumes were reprinted at the Clarendon Press, 1798, 8vo, and 1827, 8vo. His earlier publication, ‘A Vindication of the Former Part of St. Matthew's Gospel,’ &c., 1719, 8vo (reprinted Salop, 1721, 8vo; Clarendon Press, 1803, 8vo), dedicated to his uncle, is a criticism of Whiston's endeavour to reconcile the chronology of the evangelists by a theory of ‘dislocations’ in the existing text of St. Matthew. It would appear from the preface that Jones had been in correspondence with Whiston. Jones is said to have projected another volume ‘on the apostolical fathers;’ more probably he meant to apply his method of determining canonicity to the remaining books of the New Testament.

Jones, Joshua (d. 1740), younger brother of the above, and probably editor of his posthumous work, was minister successively at Wem (1717), Oswestry (1718), Nailsworth (1724–5), and Cross Street, Manchester (1725–40); and died while on a visit at Chester on 25 Aug. 1740. He married Mrs. Walker on 6 July 1726.

[Monthly Mag. April 1803, pp. 501 sq. (biographical notice by J. T.—i.e. Joshua Toulmin—reprinted in Gent. Mag. June 1803); Monthly Repository, 1809, p. 656 (article by W. W.—i.e. Walter Wilson); James's Hist. Litig. Presb. Chapels, 1867, pp. 664, 674, 688, 689; Turner's Nonconformist Register (Heywood and Dickenson), 1881, pp. 221, 329; Rees's Hist. Prot. Nonconf. in Wales, 1883, p. 231; Jeremy's Presbyterian Fund, 1885, pp. 13, 44; Walter Wilson's manuscript Account of Dissenting Congregations in Dr. Williams's Library; information from the Rev. E. Myers, Shrewsbury.]

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