Alexander Geddes

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The grave of Rev Alexander Geddes, St Marys Paddington

Alexander Geddes (14 September 1737 – 26 February 1802) was a Scottish theologian and scholar.[1]

He was born at Rathven, Banffshire, of Roman Catholic parentage, and educated for the priesthood at the local seminary of Scalan, and at Paris; he became a priest in his native county.

His translation of the Satires of Horace made him known as a scholar, but his liberalism led to his suspension. He then went to London, where he became known to Baron Petre, who enabled him to proceed with a new translation of the Bible for English Roman Catholics, which he carried on as far as the Book of Second Chronicles and the Prayer of Manasseh which was published in 2 volumes (1792–1797). A translation of Psalms was published in 1807.

This was followed by Critical Remarks on the Hebrew Scriptures (1800), in which he largely anticipated the German school of Higher Criticism.[2] The result of this publication was Geddes's suspension from all ecclesiastical functions.

Geddes was also a poet, and wrote Linton: a Tweedside Pastoral, Carmen Seculare pro Gallica Gente (1790), in praise of the French Revolution.

He died without recanting, but received absolution at the hands of a French priest, though public mass for his soul was forbidden by the ecclesiastical powers.

He is buried next to the south-east corner of St. Mary's Church in Paddington, London.


  • The Holy Bible, or the Books accounted sacred by Jews and Christians, otherwise called the books of the Old and New Covenant; faithfully translated from corrected texts of the originals. With various readings, explanatory notes, and critical remarks. By Alexander Geddes. (J. Davis, London. 1797).
  • English translations of Homer

External links[edit]


  1. ^ According to The Cambridge history of eighteenth-century philosophy Geddes "was one of the great literary and biblical scholars of his day". (Cambridge University Press, 2006, p. 704)
  2. ^ Cf. Reginald C. Fuller, Alexander Geddes: A Pioneer of Biblical Criticism, 1737-1802, Toronto 1984, ISBN 0-907459-26-9).