Dick Wilson

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Robert Dick Wilson at the Grove City Bible Conference in 1909.
Robert Dick Wilson at the Grove City Bible Conference in 1909.

Robert Dick Wilson (February 4, 1856 – October 11, 1930) was an American linguist and Presbyterian scholar who made major contributions in verifying the reliability of the Hebrew Bible. In his quest to determine the accuracy of the original manuscripts, Wilson eventually learned 45 languages, including Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, as well as all the languages into which the Scriptures had been translated up to 600 AD.



Wilson was born in Indiana, Pennsylvania. He proved himself an outstanding language student even as an undergraduate. While at Princeton University, he was able to read the New Testament in nine languages. He graduated from Princeton at the age of 20, later receiving a master's degree and doctorate before doing post-graduate work in Germany at the Humboldt University of Berlin. In 1883, Wilson became Professor of the Old Testament at Western Theological Seminary (later known as Pittsburgh Theological Seminary), where he had done some of his graduate studies. In 1900, he returned to Princeton as the William Henry Green Professor of Semitic Languages and Old Testament Criticism at Princeton Theological Seminary.

Throughout his career, he opposed the higher criticism theory, which held that the Bible was inaccurate on many points and not historically reliable. Professor Wilson wrote, "I have come to the conviction that no man knows enough to attack the veracity of the Old Testament. Every time when anyone has been able to get together enough documentary 'proofs' to undertake an investigation, the biblical facts in the original text have victoriously met the test" (quoted in R. Pache, The Inspiration and Authority of Scripture).

In the late 1920s, he left Princeton to teach at the new, conservative Westminster Theological Seminary. Among his other works, Wilson contributed articles to the International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, a noted Bible reference of the early 20th century.



  • Introductory Syriac Method and Manual (New York: Scribners, 1891).
  • Elements of Syriac Grammar by an inductive method (New York: Scribners, 1891).
  • Notes on Hebrew Syntax (Allegheny: no publisher, 1892).
  • The Lower Criticism of the Old Testament as a preparation for the higher criticism (Princeton: C.S. Robinson, 1901).
  • A Hebrew Grammar for Beginners (Leipzig: W. Drugulin, 1908).
  • The Present State of the Daniel Controversy (New York: Bible Teachers raining School, 1919).
  • Is The Higher Criticism Scholarly? (Chicago: Sunday School Times, 1922).
  • A Scientific Investigation of the Old Testament (Philadelphia: Sunday School Times, 1926).
  • The Radical Criticism of the Psalter (London: Victoria Institute, 1927).
  • Studies in the Book of Daniel 2 Vols. (Vol. 1: New York: Putnam, 1917; Vol. 2: New York: Revell, 1938; 2 in 1 vol, Grand Rapids: Baker, 1979).
  • The Robert Dick Wilson Manuscript Collection. Special Collections, Princeton Theological Seminary Library.

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