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.

James Kennedy on the Song of Solomon

James Kennedy (1818-1898) was born in Northern Ireland and ministered in the Reformed Presbyterian of Ireland for many years before moving to America in 1870 and assuming the pastorate of the Fourth Reformed Presbyterian Church of New York City, which he served until 1894.

Perhaps his most notable work is his study of the Song of Solomon: Christ in the Song: An Explanation of all the Figurative Descriptions of Christ in the Song of Solomon (1890). Like George Burrowes, he takes the allegorical interpretation of the SoS.

In this volume, he examines specifically particular figurative descriptions of Christ used by Solomon in some detail. The table of contents illustrates his approach:

  • The Principle on which the Song of Songs is interpreted

  • The Excellency of the Knowledge of Christ

  • Our Lord's Complexion

  • Our Lord's Pre-eminence

  • Our Lord's Head of Gold

  • Our Lord's Bushy Raven Locks

  • Our Lord's Dove Eyes

  • Our Lord's Aromatic and Brilliant Cheeks

  • Our Lord's Lily Lips Dropping Myrrh

  • Our Lord's Jewelled Hands

  • Our Lord's Ivory, Sapphire-set Body

  • Our Lord's Marble Limbs in Sockets of Gold

  • Our Lord's Countenance as Lebanon with its Cedars

  • Our Lord's Mouth Most Sweet

  • Our Lord Altogether Lovely

  • Our Lord our Beloved and Friend

This, then, is Kennedy’s aim in this exposition: “Our chief object in preparing [this] is a desire to exalt the ‘Glorious One’ of whom they treat, make him better known, endear him more to the children of God, and attract others to him as the great object of their confidence and love.” May his study of the SoS stir us up thus to more dearly love our precious Savior.

Don't Miss These Faithful Studies of God's Word

The 19th century published its share of commentaries, and Presbyterians were at the forefront of that effort. Joseph Addison Alexander, the son of Archibald Alexander, was one of those men of whom the word "prolific" does not even begin to describe the amount of writing they are able to produce and publish in a normal life span. He wrote commentaries on Isaiah, Acts, Mark, Matthew, the Psalms - and he had time to preach. (This doesn't even include everything he wrote that's available in digital form! It may take you a lifetime to read what he wrote in his 51 years of life. But here it is, available to you when you need it.) Another 19th century American Presbyterian, Thomas Verner Moore, wrote on the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi. You can find more commentaries on our site by visiting our Commentaries page.

19th Century Commentaries at Log College Press

If you're starting a new sermon series this fall, make sure to check out the Commentaries page on the Log College Press website to see if a 19th century American Presbyterian has written on the book through which you plan to preach. The Princeton theologians, Joseph Addison Alexander and Charles Hodge, have the most studies of Scripture on our site, but a total of twenty-one authors so far are listed - and surely we'll find more to add. 

Did Joseph Addison Alexander Ever Sleep?

There are a few people in history, even in our own day, of whom the word "prolific" does not even begin to describe the amount of writing they have been able to produce and publish in a normal life span. Joseph Addison Alexander, the son of Archibald Alexander, was one of those men. He wrote commentaries on Isaiah, Acts, Mark, Matthew, the Psalms - and he had time to preach. But this doesn't even include everything he wrote that's available in digital form! It may take you a lifetime to read what he wrote in his 51 years of life. But here it is, available to you when you need it. Enjoy!

If You're Looking for Commentaries on the OT Prophets, Don't Miss These

The 19th century published its share of commentaries, and Presbyterians were at the forefront of that effort. Thomas Verner Moore wrote on the post-exilic prophets Haggai, Zechariah and Malachi, while Joseph Addison Alexander wrote on Isaiah (in two parts - the second part will be posted soon!). There are more commentaries that we need to find and make available, but hopefully soon all 19th-century Presbyterian commentaries will be accessible from this site.