Hody, Humphrey

, an eminent English divine, was born Jan. 1, 1659, atOcicombe in the county of Somerset, of which place his father was rector. He discovered while a boy, a great propensity to learning; and, in 1676, was admitted into Wadham-college, Oxford, of which he was chosen fellow in 1684. When he was only in his twenty-first year he published his “Dissertation against Aristeas’ s History of the Seventy-two Interpreters.” The substance of that history of Aristeas, concerning the seventy-two Greek interpreters of the Bible, is this: Ptolemy Philadelphus, king of Egypt, and founder of the noble library at Alexandria, being desirous of enriching that library with all sorts of books, committed the care of it to Demetrius Phalereus, a noble Athenian then living in his court. Demetrius being informed, in the course of his inquiries, of the Law of Moses among the Jews, acquainted the king with it; who signified his pleasure, that a copy of that book, which was then only in Hebrew, should be sent for from Jerusalem, with interpreters from the same place to translate it into Greek. A deputation was accordingly sent to Eleazar the high-priest of the Jews at Jerusalem; who sent a copy of the Hebrew original, and seventy-two interpreters, six out of each of the twelve tribes, to translate it into Greek. When they were come to Egypt the king caused them to be conducted into the island of Pharos near Alexandria, in apartments prepared for them, where they completed their translation in seventy-two days. Such is the story told by Aristeas, who is said to be one of king Ptolemy’s court. Hody shews that it is the invention of some Hellenist Jew; that it is full of anachronisms and gross blunders; and, in short, was written on purpose to recommend and give greater authority to the Greek version of the Old Testament, which from this story has received the name of the Septuagint. This dissertation was received with the | highest applause by all the learned, except Isaac Vossius. Charles du Fresne spoke highly of it in his observations on the “Chrouicon Paschale,” published in 1688; and Menage, in his notes upon the second edition of “Diogenes Laertius,” gave Hody the titles of “eruditissimus, doctissimus, elegantissimus, &c.” but Vossius alone was greatly dissatisfied with it. He had espoused the contrary opinion, and could not bear that such a boy as Hody should presume to contend with one of his age and reputation for letters. He published therefore an appendix to his “Observations on Pomponius Mela,” and subjoined an answer to this dissertation of Hody’s; in which, however, he did not enter much into the argument, but contents himself with treating Hody very contemptuously, vouchsafing him no better title than Juvenis Oxoniensis, and sometimes using worse language. When Vossius was asked afterwards, what induced him to treat a young man of promising hopes, and who had certainly deserved well of the republic of letters, so very harshly, he answered, that he had received some time before a rude Latin epistle from Oxford, of which he suspected Hody to be the author; and that this had made him deal more severely with him than he should otherwise have done. Vossius had indeed received such a letter; but it was written, according to the assertion of Creech, the translator of Lucretius, without Hody’s knowledge or approbation. When Hody published his “Dissertation, &c.” he told the reader in his preface, that he had three other books preparing upon the Hebrew text, and Greek version but he was now so entirely drawn away from these studies by other engagements, that he could not find time to complete his work, and to answer the objections of Vossius, till more than twenty years after. In 1704, he published it altogether, with this title, “De Bibliorum textibns originalibus, versionibus Grsecis, et Latina Vulgata, libri IV. &c.” The first book contains his dissertation against Aristeas’s history, which is here reprinted with improvements, and an answer to Vossius’s objections. In the second he treats of the true authors of the Greek version called the Septuagint; of the time when, and the reasons why, it was undertaken, and of the manner in which it was performed. The third is a history of the Hebrew text, the Septuagint version, and of the Latin Vulgate; shewing the authority of each in different ages, and that the Hebrew text has been always most | esteemed and valued. In the fourth he gives an account of the rest of the Greek versions, namely, those of Symmachus, Aquila. and Theodotion; of Origen’s “Hexapla,” and other ancient editions; and subjoins lists of the books of the Bible at different times, which exhibit a concise, but full and clear view of the canon of Holy Scripture. Upon the whole, he thinks it probable, that the Greek version, called the Septuagint, was done in the time of the two Ptolemies, Lagus and Philadelphus; and that it was not done by order of king Ptolemy, or under the direction of Demetrius Phalereus, in order to be deposited in the Alexandrine library, but by Hellenist Jews for the use of their own countrymen.

In 1689, he wrote the “Prolegomena” to John Malela’s “Chronicle,” printed at Oxford; and the year after was made chaplain to Stillingfieet bishop of Worcester, being tutor to his son at Wadham college. The deprivation of the bishops, who had refused the oaths to king William and queen Mary, engaged him in a controversy with Dodwell, who had till now been his friend, and had spoken handsomely and affectionately of him, in his “Dissertations upon Irenams,” printed in 1689. The pieces Hody published on this occasion were, in 1691, “The Unreasonableness of a Separation from the new bishops: or, a Treatise out of Ecclesiastical History, shewing, that although a bishop was unjustly deprived, neither he nor the church ever made a separation, if the successor was not an heretic. Translated out of an ancient manuscript in the public library at Oxford,” one of the Baroccian Mss. He translated it afterwards into Latin, and prefixed to it some pieces out of ecclesiastical antiquity, relating to the same subject. Dodwell publishing an answer to it, entitled “A Vindication of the deprived bishops,” &c. in 1692, Hody replied, in a treatise which he styled “The Case of Sees vacant by an unjust or uncanonical deprivation stated; in answer to a piece intituled, A Vindication of the deprived Bishops, &c. Together with the several pamphlets published as answers to the Baroccian Treatise, 1693.” The part he acted in this controversy recommended him so powerfully to Tillotson, who had succeeded Sancroft in the see of Canterbury, that he made him his domestic chaplain in May 1694. Here he drew up his dissertation “concerning the Resurrection of the same body,” which he dedicated to Stillingfleet, whose chaplain he had been from | 1690. Tillotson dying November following, he was continued chaplain by Tenison his successor; who soon after gave him the rectory of Chart near Canterbury, vacant by the death of Wharton. This, before he was collated, he exchanged for the united parishes of St. Michael’s Royal and St. Martin’s Vintry, in London, being instituted to these in August 1695. In 1696, at the command of Tenison, he wrote “Animadversions on two pamphlets lately published by Mr. Collier, &c.” Whesi sir William Perkins and sir John Friend were executed that year for the assassination-plot, Collier, Cook, and Snatt, three nonjuring clergymen, formally pronounced upon them the absolution of the church, as it stands in the office for the visitation of the sick, and accompanied this ceremony with a solemn imposition of hands. For this imprudent action they were not only indicted, but also the archbishops and bishops published “A Declaration of their sense concerning those irregular and scandalous proceedings.” Snatt and Cook were cast into prison. Collier absconded, and from his privacy published two pamphlets to vindicate his own, and his brethren’s conduct; the one called, “A Defence of the Absolution given to sir William Perkins at the place of execution;” the other, “A Vindication thereof, occasioned by a paper, intituled, A Declaration of the sense of the archbishops and bishops, &c.”; in answer to which Hody published the “Animadversions” above-mentioned.

March 1698, he was appointed regius professor of Greek in the university of Oxford; and instituted to the archdeaconry of Oxford in 1704. In 1701, he bore a part in the controversy about the convocation, and published upon that occasion, “A History of English Councils and Convocations, and of the Clergy’s sitting in Parliament, in which is also comprehended the History of Parliaments, with an account of our ancient laws.” He died Jan. 20, 1706, and was buried in the chapel belonging to Wadham-college, where he had received his education, and to which he had been a benefactor: for, in order to encourage the study of the Greek and Hebrew languages, of which he was so great a master himself, he founded in that college ten scholarships of ten pounds each; now increased to fifteen pounds each; and appointed that four of the scholars should apply themselves to the study of the Hebrew, and six to the study of the Greek language. He | left behind him in ms. a valuable work formed from the lectures which he had read in the course of his professorship, containing an account of those learned Grecians who retired to Italy before and after the taking of Constantinople by the Turks,' and restored the Greek tongue and learning in these western parts of the world. This was published in 1742, by Dr. S. Jebb, under this title, “De Graecis illustribus linguae Groecae literarumque humaniorum instauratoribus, eorum vitis, scriptis, et elogiis libri duo. E Codicibus potissimum Mss. aliisque authenticis ejusdem aevi monimentis deprompsit Hiimfredus Hodius, S. T. P. baud ita pridem Regius Professor et Archidiaconus Oxon.” Prefixed is an account in Latin of the author’s life, extracted chiefly from a manuscript one written by himself in English. 1


Life as above. Biog. Brit. Birch’s Tillotson. Chalmers’s Hist, of Oxford.