British dissenter's Syriac studies
De linguarum Orientalium praesertim Hebraicae, Chaldaicae, Syriacae, Arabicae, & Samaritanae
praestantia necessitate, & utilitate quam & theologis praestant & philosophus. Per G.B. [bound with:] [Syriac title] Id est, grammatica linguæ domini nostri Jesu Christi, sive grammatica Syriaca tribus libris tradita, quorum primus vocum singularum proprietatem, secundus syntaxin, tertius figuras grammaticas & praxin continet. Omnibus adeo breviter & dilucide explicatis ut menstruo spatio (uti præfatione ad lectorem docetur) ipsa linguæ medulla exugatur. Opera & studio Gulielmi Beveridgii e Col. S. Johan. Cantabr. philolottou. In usum bibliorum Waltoniensiu. London Thomas Roycroft 1658
First edition. Two works bound in one volume; 8vo (18.5 x 12 cm); pp.[viii], 38 [mispaginated 26]; 144-1, [viii]. With Syriac and Hebrew text and a few words printed in Arabic. A very good copy bound in modern half calf over marbled boards; one faint, marginal dampstain. Later ownership inscription of Stephen Freeman, dated 1787; with a page of his notes to one of the initial blanks and a number of marginal annotations in ink.
An introductory Syriac grammar with a short treatise on the importance of Semitic languages to theological study, both written by William Beveridge (1637-1708), who published these works while still a young scholar of St John's, Cambridge; the first is dedicated to John Maynard (1600-1665), a dissenting minister, the second to Anthony Tuckley (1599-1670), Master of St John's, and, in the words of the Oxford Dictionary of National Biography, "a theological dinosaur". Thomas Roycroft published the London polyglot Bible between 1653 and 1657 and employed the same Syriac type, most likely cut by Nicholas Nicholls, in these works. Though the letter forms have a number of flaws, and several are confusingly formed, it is a handsome script, distinct from its continental predecessors. Beveridge became a prominent high churchman and a distinguished scholar of the early church; he was a founding member of the Society for the Promotion of Christian Knowledge in 1698. He was appointed Bishop of St Asaph in 1704 and died in post. His grammar and treatise emphasise the importance of Syriac as the language of Christ and Syriac study as the key to a finer understanding of biblical text. The Stephen Freeman who owned and annotated this book served as minister to a dissenting meeting-house in Honiton from 1787 to 1790. His interest in Syriac suggests the enduring appeal of the early church as an authentic model for Christian practice.