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Subsequently he studied German theological methods at Göttingen. He was ordained in 1864 and held a fellowship at Balliol College, Oxford, 1868-1882. During the earlier part of this period he stood alone in the university as a teacher of the main conclusions of Old Testament criticism at that time. In 1881 he was presented to the rectory of Tendring, in Essex, and in 1884 he was made a member of the Old Testament revision company. He resigned the living of Tendring in 1885 on his appointment to be Oriel Professor of the Interpretation of Holy Scripture, which carried with it a canonry at Rochester. In 1889 he delivered the Bampton lectures at Oxford. In 1908 he resigned his professorship.
He consistently urged in his writings the necessity of a broad and comprehensive study of the Scriptures in the light of literary, historical and scientific considerations. His publications include commentaries on the Prophets and Hagiographa, as well as lectures and addresses on theological subjects. He was a joint editor of the Encyclopaedia Biblica (London, 1899–1903), a work embodying the more advanced conclusions of English biblical criticism. In the introduction to his Origin of the Psalter (London, 1891) he gave an account of his development as a critical scholar. His publications include translations, commentaries, and supplemental research.