Robert Lowth

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Robert Lowth FRS (27 November 1710 – 3 November 1787) was a Bishop of the Church of England, a professor of poetry at Oxford University and the author of one of the most influential textbooks of English grammar.



Lowth was born in Hampshire, England, the son of Dr William Lowth. He was educated at Winchester College and became a scholar of New College, Oxford in 1729. Lowth obtained his BA in 1733 and his Master of Arts degree in 1737. In 1735, while still at Oxford, Lowth took orders in the Anglican Church and was appointed vicar of Ovington, Hampshire, a position he retained until 1741, when he was appointed professor of poetry at Oxford.

Bishop Lowth made a translation of the Bible. E.J. Waggoner said in 1899 that his translation included "without doubt, as a whole, the best English translation of the prophecy of Isaiah."

In 1750 he was appointed archdeacon of Winchester. In 1752 he resigned the professorship at Oxford and married Mary Jackson. Shortly afterwards, in 1753, Lowth was appointed rector of East Woodhay. In 1754 he was awarded a Doctorate in Divinity by Oxford University, for his treatise on Hebrew poetry entitled Praelectiones Academicae de Sacra Poesi Hebraeorum (On the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews). This derives from a series of lectures and was originally published in Latin. An English translation was published by George Gregory in 1787 as "Lectures on the Sacred Poetry of the Hebrews". This, and subsequent editions include the life of Bishop Lowth as a preface There was a further edition issued in 1815. This was republished in North America in 1829 with some additional notes. However, apart from those notes, the 1829 edition is less useful to a modern reader. This is because the editor of that edition chose to revert to citing many of the scriptural passages that Lowth uses as examples, and some of the annotations by Michaelis (Johann David Michaelis) and others in Latin.

Lowth was appointed a fellow of the Royal Societies of London and Göttingen in 1765. He was consecrated bishop of St David's in 1766; however, before the end of the year he was transferred to the see of Oxford. He remained Bishop of Oxford until 1777 when he was appointed Bishop of London as well as dean of the chapel royal and privy councillor. In 1783 he was offered the chance to become Archbishop of Canterbury, but declined due to failing health.

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