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James Rendel Harris

(1852—1941) biblical scholar and palaeographer


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(1852–1941), biblical scholar and orientalist. He was brought up as a Congregationalist, but later became a Quaker. Educated at Plymouth Grammar School and Clare College, Cambridge, he taught in the USA (1882–92), at Cambridge (1893–1903), and at Woodbrooke Settlement, Birmingham (1903–18), and from 1918 to 1925 was Curator of MSS at the John Rylands Library, Manchester. Harris was the author of many studies on biblical and early Christian texts and on the Mediterranean cults. In 1889 he discovered at the St Catherine's Monastery on Mount Sinai the Syriac text of the ‘Apology’ of Aristides (pub. 1891); and in 1909 he issued the editio princeps of the Syriac text of the ‘Odes of Solomon’. His numerous other works include Biblical Fragments from Mount Sinai (1890), The Diatessaron (1890), Lectures on the Western Text of the NT (1894), The Teaching of the Apostles and the Sibylline Books (1885), Testimonies (1917; 1920). In collaboration with R. L. Bensly and F. C. Burkitt he edited The Four Gospels from the Syriac Palimpsest (1894), and, with A. Mingana, a definitive edition of the ‘Odes of Solomon’ (2 vols., 1916–20). His writings reflect his unconventional and speculative mind, and immense, if at times somewhat unbalanced, erudition.

From The Oxford Dictionary of the Christian Church in Oxford Reference.

Subjects: Christianity.


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