Alexander Geddes

Alexander Geddes

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Title The / Holy Bible, / or the / Books Accounted Sacred / by / Jews and Christians; / Otherwise called the / Books of the Old and New Covenants: / faithfully translated / from Corrected Texts of the Originals / with / Various Readings, Explanatory Notes, and Critical Remarks. / By / The Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL.D. / Volume I. / London: / Printed for the Author by J. Davis: / and sold by R. Faulder, New Bond-Street; and J. Johnson, St. Paul's / Church-Yard. / M·DCC·XCII.
Date 1792
Publisher J. Davis, London
Contents Genesis through Joshua translated by Alexander Geddes (1737-1802).
References HERBERT 1416, POPE 669-21, COTTON 203, CHAMBERLIN 114-1; TALIAFERRO CN00366.
Images: Title page
Comments The first volume of an intended complete translation of the Bible for use by Catholics. Geddes died after completing Volume II (infra), and part of the Psalms. Accused of religious heterodoxy, his work was condemned by the Church.


Title: The / Holy Bible, / or the / Books Accounted Sacred / by / Jews and Christians; / Otherwise called the / Books of the Old and New Covenants: / faithfully translated / from Corrected Texts of the Originals. / with / Various Readings, Explanatory Notes, and Critical Remarks. / By / The Rev. Alexander Geddes, LL.D. / Volume II. / London: / Printed for the Author by J. Davis: / and sold by R. Faulder, New Bond-Street; and J. Johnson, St. Paul's / Church-Yard. / M·DCC·XCVII·
Date: 1797
Publisher: J. Davis: London
Contents: Judges - 2 Chronicles + Prayer of Manasseh
Description: 4to [4]a-c4B-3B4 ( p. title, dedication, i-xx, 1-375)
References: CHAMBERLIN 114-1; HERBERT 1416; TALIAFERRO CN00366.
Images: Title page


Title: A / New Translation / of / The Book of Psalms, / from / The Original Hebrew; / with / Various Readings and Notes. / by the late / Alexander Geddes, LL.D.
Date: 1807
Publisher: Printed for J. Johnson, In St. Paul's Church-Yard, by Richard Taylor and Co., Shoe-Lane: London
Contents: Psalms
References: HERBERT 1505
Images: Title page - from the scanned image
Facsimile: A pdf facsimile is available at

Advertisement from Geddes' Translation of the Psalms

In the year 1781, Doctor Geddes engaged in his new Translation of the Scriptures, under the patronage of the late Lord Petre; his lordship having furnished him with a complete Biblical Library, and promising to allow him, while he should be employed on the work, an annuity of 100l.:- double the amount of which he regularly paid him.

In 1786, the Doctor published his “Prospectus of a new Translation of the Holy Bible, from corrected Texts of the Originals, compared with the ancient Versions: with Various Readings, Explanatory Notes, and Critical Observations.” The object of this publication was, to point out the defects of former versions, their causes, and the means by which a more perfect version might be procured. It abounds with very curious and learned remarks on the state of the text, and the merit of its former editors and translators; and was favourably received by the public. The manuscript copy of it had been sent by Doctor Geddes to Doctor Lowth, the late Bishop of London, with a letter desiring “his lordship would mark, with a black theta, whatever passage might appear objectionable.” The learned Bishop returned it with a note, expressing “that he had read it with some care and attention, and with the fullest approbation; that he found no room for black thetas; and that he doubted not it would give general satisfaction.”

In the following year, Doctor Geddes addressed to the Learned Bishop, “A Letter containing Queries, Doubts, and Difficulties, relative to a vernacular Version of the Holy Scriptures.” It is an Appendix to the Prospectus.

These publications produced him several communications: in consequence of them he published, in 1790, his “General Answers to the Queries, Counsels, and Criticisms, that had been communicated to him since the Publication of his Proposals for printing a New Translation of the Bible.”

In 1792, the first volume of his Translation appeared under the title of “The Holy Bible, or the Books accounted sacred by Jews and Christians: otherwise called the Books of the Old and New Covenants: faithfully translated from corrected Texts of the originals. With Various Readings, Explanatory Notes, and critical Remarks.” It contained a complete translation of the Pentateuch: he dedicated it to his noble patron.

In answer to the objections made to it, the Doctor published in the following year his “address to the Public, on the Publication of his New Translation of the Bible.”

In 1797, the Doctor published the second volume of his Translation; it comprises the Book of Judges, the Books of Samuel, the Books of Kings, the Books of Chronicles, the Book of Ruth, and the Prayer of Manasseh. It is dedicated to the Duchess of Gloucester. The two volumes comprise the whole of Jewish History, from the Creation to the Babylonian Captivity.

To each volume a preface is prefixed; and each is accompanied throughout with various readings and short explanatory notes at the bottom of the page. A fuller explanation or illustration of different passages of the text was to form his Critical Remarks.

His Critical Remarks on the Pentateuch, under the title “Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures, corresponding with a New Translation of the Bible,” were published in 1800.

In 1801, he lost his friend and patron Lord Petre. His lordship’s exalted and amiable character will not soon be forgotten. Adored by his family, the centre of a numerous and honourable band of friends, connected with some of the most illustrious personages in the kingdom, all of whom revered and loved him; the warm and steady friend of civil and religious liberty; the soul of the successful attempts in 1778 and 1791, for the relief of his Roman Catholic brethren; but, in his expanded benevolence, knowing no difference of Catholic, Protestant, Jew, or Infidel, his lordship seemed to exist only for purposes of charity and munificence: his death (though his conscientious adherence to his religious principles kept him from the public situations to which his birth, his possessions, and his character entitled him,) was generally bewailed as a public loss. Doctor Geddes bewailed it in a pathetic and elegant Latin Elegy.

The connexion between Lord Petre and Doctor Geddes was equally honourable to each: there was never between them any of the coolness or intermissions of regard which often affect the sincerest friendships; still less was there on his lordship’s side, any thing of that subserviency which so often disgrace patronage. His lordship was uniformly respectful and kind to his literary friend, anxiously promoted the great work which occasioned their connexion, and warmly interested himself in its success. By his will be bequeathed to the Doctor, for his life, an annuity of 100l.

With the hereditary munificence of his family, the present lord, very soon after his father’s decease, signified to the Doctor, in the most polite and friendly manner, his intention to continue his father’s patronage of the work, and to allow the Doctor an annuity of 100l in addition to that which his father bequeathed him.

Doctor Geddes did not long survive his noble patron. Lord Petre died July 2nd, 1801; the Doctor, after a very severe illness, died on the 26th of the following February. He was buried by his own desire in the church-yard at Paddington. His funeral was numerously and honourable attended: few persons could boast of more warm or more respectable friends. No person ever called in question his learning, his literary industry, his friendly and beneficent disposition, or guileless heart.

Lord Petre extended his kindness to the Doctor’s memory. Immediately after his decease, his lordship desired us to examine the Doctor’s papers. We did it as far as our avocations allowed; but, to our great surprise, we did not find a single manuscript line which related to his biblical pursuits. We signified this to his lordship, and recommended a further search might be made by some person who could bestoe more time upon it: this was done, but was equally unsuccessful. From the Doctor’s own declarations, and other circumstances, there is every reason to suppose he had made great progress in his work: it seems therefore probable, that is the view of his approaching dissolution, of which he had long been sensible, he committed all his manuscripts to the flames.

Lord Peter closed his attentions to his friend’s memory by causing a monumental stone to be erected with the following inscription:

DIED FEB. 26, 1802,
AGED 65.

“Christian is my name, and catholic my surname.”
“I grant that you are a christian as well as I, and embrace you as my fellow disciple of Jesus. And if you were not a disciple of Jesus, still I would embrace you as my fellow man.”
Extracted from his Works.
This stone was erected by his friend Lord Peter,

It has been mentioned that the part of his Translation which he lived to see printed, ended with the Book of Ruth. But at the request of several of his friends, he consented to anticipate the time, in which the Book of Psalms would appear in its proper order, and to prepare it for a separate publication; prefixing to each psalm a summary of its contents, and inserting at the end, such critical remarks as appeared to him absolutely necessary for the elucidation of the text, or the defence of his own version.

It was a very favorite work of the Doctor; he bestowed an uncommon degree of attention upon it. He completed the translation as far as the 11th verse of the cxviiith psalm, inclusive; and in his lifetime it was printed off to the end of the civth. Among his books was an interleaved copy of bishop Wilson’s edition of the Bible: he had made in it some verbal corrections, and had translated the whole of the clth psalm: of this circumstance the publisher has availed himself to present the public with the work in as perfect a state as his materials admit. The reader, therefore, is desired to recollect, that as far as the 11th verse of the cxviiith psalm, the work had the Doctor’s finishing hand; the whole of the clth psalm was translated by him; from the 11th verse of the cxviiith exclusively, the the clth exclusively, the work is printed from bishop Wilson’s edition, with such alterations as were made in it by the Doctor.

Some persons may expect a fuller account of the Doctor’s literary life, habits, and character; we beg leave to refer them the Memoirs of his life and writings, published by Mr. Good; which exhibit a faithful and interesting account of the Doctor’s literary life and labours.


January 17, 1807


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