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Holmes, Robert (1748-1805) (DNB00)

HOLMES, ROBERT (1748–1805), biblical scholar, baptised at St. Martin's-in-the-Fields, London, on 30 Nov. 1748, was the son of Edmund Holmes of that parish. He became a scholar of Winchester College in 1760, whence he was elected to New College, Oxford, matriculating on 3 March 1767 (Kirby, Winchester Scholars, p. 256; Foster, Alumni Oxon. 1715-1886, ii. 682). He won the chancellor's prize for Latin verse, the subject being 'Ars Pingendi,' in 1769, the year of it institution. He proceeded B.A. in 1770, was elected fellow of his college, and graduated M.A. in 1774, B.D. in 1787, and D.D. in 1789. He was presented to the college rectory of Stanton St. John's, Oxfordshire. His first publication was a sermon preached before the university of Oxford, entitled 'The Resurrection of the Body deduced from the Resurrection of Christ,' 1777 (2nd edit. 1779), which attracted some attention from the novelty of the arguments. In 1778 he published an imitation of Gray, called 'Alfred, an Ode. With six Sonnets.' In 1782 he was chosen Bampton lecturer, and during the same year published his eight lectures 'On the Prophecies and Testimony of John the Baptist, and the parallel Prophecies of Jesus Christ.' He succeeded John Randolph as professor of poetry in 1783, and composed 'An Ode for the Encoenia held at Oxford July 1703.' In 1788 he issued a defence of some of the essential doctrines of the church in 'Four Tracts: on the Principles of Religion as a Test of Divine Authority; on the Principles of Redemption; on the Angelical Message to the Virgin Mary; on the Resurrection of the Body; with a Discourse on Humility.' He became prebendary of Lyme and Halstock in Salisbury Cathedral on 23 May 1790 (Le Neve, Fasti, ed. Hardy, ii. 678-9), prebendary of Moreton-with-Whaddon in Hereford Cathedral on 12 Aug. 1791 (ib. i. 514), prebendary of the seventh stall in Christ Church, Oxford, on 28 April 1795 (ib. ii. 530), and dean of Winchester on 20 Feb. 1804 (ib. iii. 23). On 14 Dec, 1797 he was elected F.R.S. (Thomson, Hist. of Royal Soc. Appendix iv, p. lxv), He died at his house in St. Giles, Oxford, on 12 Nov. 1805 (Gent. Mag. 1805, pt. ii. p. 1086). Most of his treatises and discourses already referred to were republished with others' in 1806.

In 1788 Holmes commenced his collation of the manuscripts of the Septuagint, and published in Latin an account of the method which he thought should be followed. The work was intended to embrace collations of all the known manuscripts of the Greek text, as well as of oriental versions, and for seventeen years, despite the difficulties interposed by the continental wars, the collation of the various readings from manuscripts in libraries throughout Europe was carried on. The delegates of the Clarendon Press allowed him 40l. a year for three years on condition that he exhibited to them his collations annually, and deposited them in the Bodleian Library. When the whole was finished it was to be printed at the University Press at his expense and for his benefit. Annual accounts of the progress of the work were published, and these possess critical and bibliographical interest. Holmes published in 1789 his first annual account, by which it appeared that eleven folio volumes of collations were deposited in the Bodleian Library. At the close of 1795 the total number of manuscript volumes placed in the library reached seventy-three, and the sum received from subscribers amounted to 4,445l., which, however, fell far short of the expenses. In the same year Holmes printed two specimens in folio, accompanied by Latin epistles to Barrington, bishop of Durham. In 1798 he printed part of his first volume containing Genesis. This was followed in 1801 by another portion of the same volume, including Exodus and Leviticus, and in 1804 the volume was completed by the addition of Numbers and Deuteronomy, with a preface giving a history of the Septuagint and its various editions. The last volume (numbered 142) of collations was deposited in the Bodleian in 1805. After Holmes's death the work was continued by James Parsons, and completed in 1827, the whole forming five folio volumes.

[Chalmers's Biog. Dict. xviii. 82–4; Macray's Annals of Bodl. Libr. p. 207; Holmes's Annual Accounts; Bodl. Libr. Cat.]

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