SMITH, JOHN MERLIN POWIS°


SMITH, JOHN MERLIN POWIS°
SMITH, JOHN MERLIN POWIS° (1866–1932), U.S. Protestant biblical scholar. Smith taught Semitic languages and literatures at the University of Chicago, where he became full professor in 1915. He developed a longstanding attachment to biblical translations which culminated in The Complete Bible: An American Translation (co-edited by E.J. Good-speed, 1941). Smith was also a member of the American Standard Bible Committee responsible for the revision of the American Standard Version. To the International Critical Commentary he contributed the commentaries on Micah, Zephaniah, Nahum (1912; 19433), and Malachi (1912; 19372). In 1903 he helped to establish the Oriental Exploration Fund. In his writings, Smith advanced the theory that the Hebrew religion was a product of Israel's social experience reacting to alien cultures (The Origin and History of Hebrew Law, 1931, 19602; The Religion of the Psalms, 1922). In The Moral Life of the Hebrews (1923) he maintained that the uniqueness of the Hebrew religion was its ethical consciousness. Smith also contributed commentaries on Amos, Hosea, and Micah to the Bible for Home and School series (1914). -BIBLIOGRAPHY: W.G. Williams, in: AJSLL, 49 (1932/33), 169–71 (list of Smith's publications); J.H. Breasted, ibid., 73–79; I.M. Price, ibid., 80–86; E.J. Goodspeed, ibid., 87–96. (Zev Garber)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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