Dictionary of National Biography, 1912 supplement/Roberts, Alexander

ROBERTS, ALEXANDER (1826–1901), classical and biblical scholar, born at Marykirk, Kincardineshire, on 12 May 1826, was son of Alexander Roberts, a flax-spinner. He was educated at the grammar school and King's College, Old Aberdeen, where he graduated M.A. in March 1847, being the Simpson Greek prizeman. He was presbyterian minister (1852–71) in Scotland and London. In 1864, being then minister at Carlton Hill, London, he was made D.D. of Edinburgh. He was also minister at St. John's Wood, and was a member of the New Testament revision company (1870–84). In 1872 he succeeded John Campbell Shairp [q. v.] in the chair of humanity at St. Andrews; he was made emeritus professor in 1899. He died at St. Andrews, Mitcham Park, Surrey, on 8 March 1901. He married on 2 Dec. 1852 Mary Anne Speid (d. 18 Jan, 1911), and had fourteen children, of whom four sons and eight daughters survived him.

Roberts co-operated with Sir James Donaldson as editor and part translator of the English versions of ecclesiastical writers published as the 'Ante-Nicene Christian Library' (1867–72, 24 vols.); he translated also the 'Works of Sulpitius Severus' (1895) in the 'Select Library of Nicene and Post-Nicene Fathers.' He is best known for the series of works in which he maintains that Greek was the habitual speech of our Lord, a conclusion which has not met with general favour, despite the ability with which Roberts managed his case.

He published:

  1. 'The Threefold Life,' 1858, 12mo.
  2. 'Inquiry into the Original Language of St. Matthew's Gospel,' 1859.
  3. 'Discussions on the Gospels,' 2 pts. 1862; 2nd edit. 1864.
  4. 'The Life and Work of St. Paul practically considered,' 1867.
  5. 'The Words of the New Testament,' Edinburgh, 1873 (in conjunction with William Milligan [q. v. Suppl. I], a work of textual criticism).
  6. 'Hints to Beginners in Latin Composition,' Edinburgh, 1873.
  7. 'The Bible of Christ and His Apostles,' 1879.
  8. 'Companion to the Revised Version of the English New Testament,' 1881; 3rd edit. 1885 (reprinted. New York, 1881, with supplement by an American reviser).
  9. 'Old Testament Revision,' 1883.
  10. 'Greek the Language of Christ and His Apostles,' 1888.
  11. 'A Short Proof that Greek was the Language of Christ,' Paisley, 1893.

[Who's Who, 1901; The Times, 11 March 1901; Athenæum, 16 March 1901; P. J. Anderson's Officers and Graduates of King's College, Aberdeen, 1893, p. 299; Calendar of St. Andrews University, 1910, p. 676; Alphabetical List of Graduates, Edinb. Univ. (1859–1888), 1889, p. 114; information from Mr. J. Maitland Anderson.]

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