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Archibald Alexander Hodge

A. A. Hodge

Archibald Alexander Hodge (July 18 1823 - November 12 1886), an American Presbyterian leader, was the principal of Princeton Seminary between 1878 and 1886. He was the son of Charles Hodge, named after the first principal of Princeton Seminary, Archibald Alexander.

Hodge attended the College of New Jersey (later Princeton University) and Princeton Theological Seminary, and, after spending three years (1847-1850) in India as a missionary, held pastorates at Lower West Nottingham, Maryland (1851-1855), Fredericksburg, Virginia (1855-1861), and Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania (1861-1864). In 1864 he accepted a call to the chair of systematic theology in the Western Theological Seminary (later Pittsburgh Theological Seminary) in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. There he remained until in 1877 he was called to Princeton to be the associate of his father in the chair of systematic theology, to the full duties of which he succeeded in 1878. This post he retained till his death.

At the time of his death, Hodge was in the zenith of his powers. Every element that entered into his eminent reputation put on its best expression during the closing years of his life. He was public-spirited, and helped every good cause. He was a trustee of the College of New Jersey and a leading man in the Presbyterian Church. He was a man of wide interests and touched the religious world at many points. During the years immediately preceding his death he was writing, preaching, lecturing, making addresses, coming into contact with men, influencing them, and by doing so widening the influence of the Christianity.

Hodge's distinguishing characteristic as a theologian was his power as a thinker. He had a mind of singular acuteness, and though never a professed student of metaphysics, he was essentially and by nature a metaphysician. His theology was that of the Reformed confessions. He had no peculiar views and no peculiar method of organizing theological dogmas; and though he taught the same theology that his father had taught before him, he was independent as well as reverent. His first book and that by which he is best known was his Outlines of Theology (New York, 1860; enlarged ed., 1878; reprinted 1996, ISBN 0851511600), which was translated into Welsh, modern Greek, and Hindustani. The Atonement (Philadelphia, 1868; reprinted 1989, ISBN 0685268381) is still one of the best treatises on the subject. This was followed by his commentary on the Westminster Confession of Faith (1869, ISBN 0837009324), a very useful book, full of clear thinking and compact statement. He contributed some important articles to encyclopedias – Johnson's, McClintock and Strong's, and the Schaff-Herzog. He was one of the founders of the Presbyterian Review, to the pages of which he was a frequent contributor.

In the Pulpit Hodge was a man of marked power. As he was not under the necessity of making fresh preparation every week, he had but few sermons, and he preached them frequently. They were never written; nor were they deliberately planned as great efforts. They grew from small beginnings and, as he went through the process of thinking them over as often as he preached them, they gradually became more elaborate and became possessed of greater literary charm. There are few preachers like him. To hear him when he was at his best was something never to be forgotten.

It is possible to entertain different views of what a professor's function ought to be. According to one view a professorship means an opportunity for special investigation and leisurely research, the results of which are communicated in the lecture-room to men who desire knowledge. According to another view the academic lecture is intended to stimulate interest in the department to which it belongs. It is not intended to be a substitute for independent reading and that mastery of the subject which only independent reading can give. According to still another view the professor's business is to see that a certain definite body of instruction is safely and surely transferred from his mind to the minds of those who hear him. He is not only, or even chiefly, to present truth that men may receive if they choose; he is to see that they receive it. Hodge was a teacher of this type, and one of the greatest that America has ever produced.

This article includes content derived from the public domain Schaff-Herzog Encyclopedia of Religious Knowledge, 1914.

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