New Addition to Log College Press: B.M. Smith & A.R. Fausset on the Poetical Books of the Bible

(If the author links in this post are broken, please visit our Free PDF Library and click on the author’s page directly.)

The Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary on the Bible (1871) has been a valuable tool for student of the Bible for almost 150 years. It is so named for the Biblical scholars who collaborated to publish it: Robert Jamieson (Scottish, 1802–1880); Andrew Robert Fausset (Irish-English, 1821–1910); David Brown (Scottish, 1803–1897). It fell to Jamieson to comment upon Genesis-Esther; Fausset expounded upon Job-Malachi and 1 Corinthians to Revelation; and Brown commented upon Matthew-Acts. This work has been commended by Charles Spurgeon and many others.

Less well-known perhaps, A.R. Fausset had collaborated earlier with the American pastor-scholar Benjamin Mosby Smith (1811-1893) to publish The Poetical Books of the Holy Scriptures: With a Critical and Explanatory Commentary. Francis R. Flournoy, Smith’s grandson and biographer, tells us a little about this:

In 1859 he published, in co-operation with the Rev. A.R. Fausset, an English scholar, an edition of the Poetical Books of the Bible, with a critical and explanatory commentary, Dr. Smith preparing the sections on Psalms and Proverbs. This work was published in England, and after the Civil War it was brought out in the United States.

Thus in this collaborative commentary on the Poetical Books, Fausset wrote on Job, Ecclesiastes and the Song of Solomon, while Smith wrote on the Psalms and Proverbs. Interestingly, a comparison of the Fausset-Smith commentary with the Jamieson-Fausset-Brown commentary on the same poetical books shows that the material is largely the same. An example of this can be seen where Smith is credited for a comment upon Ecclesiastes 12:6 in the 1859/1867 FS commentary at LCP as well as within editions of the 1871 JFB commentary; and, more significantly, the introductions to Psalms and Proverbs are verbatim in both commentaries (the same is true of Fausset’s individual book introductions, although the overall introduction to the poetical books differs). Further - but not by this writer a complete - comparison between the commentaries shows that much of the commentary material on Psalms and Proverbs from the FS edition is to be found in the JFB edition as well. WorldCat shows that early editions under the title, for example, “The Holy Bible: According to the Authorised Version, with original and selected parallel references and marginal readings, an an original and copious critical and explanatory commentary” (1871) do credit B.M. Smith as an author, along with Jamieson, Fausset and Brown. Later editions, however, have simply largely or completely scrubbed out Smith’s name as a contributor. The fact remains that Benjamin Mosby Smith is today a largely uncredited and mostly forgotten contributor to to the Psalms and Proverbs portions of the more well-known JFB commentary.

Read the newly-added FS commentary for yourself here at Smith’s author page or at the Commentaries page, and if you seek to glean more from the Psalms and Proverbs, remember to consult the scholarship of B.M. Smith.