How Joseph Fowler Read his Hebrew Bible


  • John Christopher Hardy St Mary’s Newmarket with St Agnes’ Exning



Hebrew Bible, reading, devotion


How did a work-a-day Victorian Hebraist read the Hebrew Bible? Suggestive information on the subject is found in the unpublished memoirs of Canon Dr Joseph Thomas Fowler (1833–1924), Durham Hebraist and antiquarian. Interesting as an example of contemporary devotional practice among Durham-based and Durham-trained Anglican clergy, Fowler’s Hebrew Bible reading habit also illustrates the informal aspect of his working relationships with colleagues in the fledgling university of Durham. This article offers, too, a frame of reference, by exploring Fowler’s biography, his Durham undergraduate career (1858–1861), and his work as university Hebrew lecturer for almost half a century (1871–1917). Incidental light is shed on the ecclesiastical ethos, the staff, the curriculum, and the pedagogy of Durham University in the mid-nineteenth century.



1.Archival material

Durham University Library, Special Collections, Additional MS 199, Joseph T. Fowler, Durham University: Earlier Foundation and Present Colleges. London: Robinson, 1904; Fowler’s interleaved copy.

Durham University Library, Special Collections, Additional MS 201, John Low, “The Psalms, Translated by John Low Low, with Other Poetical Passages from the Old Testament; Author’s Manuscript”, c. 1880.

Durham University Library, Special Collections, Additional MS 206, “Guardbook of 156 letters from Edward Augustus Freeman, at Wells, etc., mostly to Joseph Thomas Fowler”, 29 July 1875 - 1 March 1892,

Durham University Library, Special Collections, Additional MS 770, Joseph T. Fowler, “Memoirs and Diaries”, fascicles 5 (1858-61), 9 (1870-80), 10 (1881-1900), 11 (1901-04), 12 (1906-08), 17 (1916-17) (quotations reproduced by permission of Durham University Library).

Durham University Library, Special Collections, Additional MS 837/1-129, “Chevallier correspondence: 129 letters mainly between Rev. Temple Chevallier (1794-1873) and Rev. George Elwes Corrie (1793-1885)”, 1832-1865.

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How to Cite

Hardy, J. C. (2020). How Joseph Fowler Read his Hebrew Bible. Postscripts: The Journal of Sacred Texts, Cultural Histories, and Contemporary Contexts, 11(1), 55–79.