When did organized graduate study of divinity begin at Harvard?
While the first mention of a theological "seminary" at Harvard does not occur in the records until October 1816 and the first mention of a theological "faculty" occurs in 1819, the earliest record of organized study of divinity is found in the General Respository and Review, v. 1 (1812), p. 209-10. Here is the text:
Theological Institution at Cambridge
The number of resident Graduates, studying divinity at the College having much increased, some new arrangements have been made for their benefit. Heretofore the theological students had pursued their studies with the advantage of the Library, and public lectures of the College, and with such advice as they might seek. Their superintendence had been the duty of no one. The president, the professor of Divinity and professor of Hebrew and Oriental languages now afford the instruction, which they can give consistently with their primary obligations to the undergraduates. Professor Willard assists them in the study of the Hebrew scriptures. The critical interpretation of the Greek testament is pursued under Dr. Ware: general references are furnished by the Professor, and the attention of the students is not confined to any text book. The President directs their inquiries on the principal subjects of natural and revealed religion, by proposing questions for examination, with references to books to be consulted.
As the system adopted requires an easy access to many books, the coporation have placed at their disposal the duplicate Theological works of the college library. These have been deposited in a reading room, at all times open. Among these books are the following copies of the scriptures; The London Polyglot, The Hebrew Bible with the Massorah, The first volume of Kennicott's Hebrew Bible, Grabe's Septuagint, Wetstein's New Testament. There are several valuable Concordances and Lexicons; among which are Taylor's and Buxtorf's Hebrew concordances, Trommius' concordance for the Septuagint, and Stephens' for the Greek of the New Testament, Robert Stephens' Latin Thesaurus, Henry Stephens' Greek Thesaurus, Pagninus' Hebrew Thesaurus, and Schindlers' Pentaglott Lexicon. There are many works on the interpretation of the scriptures, some of which are rarely to be met with in this country: such as, those of Le Clerc, Grotius, Lightfoot, Poole, Wolfius, the Fratres Polini, Mede. The following may be a specimen of other theological works. Either the whole or paerts of the works of Barrow, Chillingworth, Bishop Burnett, Josephus, Bull, Arminius, Bochart, Le Long, Father Simon, Hoadley, Lardner, Stillingfleet, Sykes. Besides these works, and others of a similar nature, there are many good editions of the works of the fathers.
The privileges of the graduates in the college library have not been diminished by this arrangement, but any books which are there may still be borrowed or consulted.
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