W. Hersey Davis

W. Hersey DavisWilliam Hersey Davis, professor of New Testament interpretation at Southern 1920-1948, was born on January 20, 1887 in Norfolk County, Virginia. In 1909, Davis entered the University of Richmond, where he won honors and the Greek medal. Davis also received an M.A. from Richmond, graduating in 1913, the same year he married Mabel Sewell of Windsor, North Carolina.

After his wedding, Davis enrolled at Southern, earning Th.M. and Th.D. degrees over the next six years. In 1919, he took pastorates in North Vernon, Indiana, Deer Park, Louisville, and Finchville, Kentucky. When Southern requested his service as Professor of New Testament interpretation in 1920, Davis obliged, beginning a long teaching career. In the New Testament department, Davis worked under venerable chair Dr. A. T. Robertson. The two became close and co-authored A New Short Grammar of the Greek Testament. Davis majored on the historico-grammatical interpretation of the text. He accorded typology little weight and disdained conversation on contemporary New Testament issues. His students generally esteemed him a keen scholar.

In 1930, Davis added the work of library director to his teaching responsibilities. He held the position for several years. After Robertson passed away in September 1934, Davis became head of the New Testament Department. Over the next sixteen years, he authored A Beginner’s Grammar of the Greek New Testament and co-authored with professor E. A. McDowell A Source Book of Interbiblical History. Equally adept at parsing nouns and pounding nails, Davis sent his son, William Hersey, Jr., to college with a wood block inscribed with Ouden aneu ergou, Greek for “nothing without work.” Davis’s craftsmanship also included a cottage, built by his own hands and furnished with homemade furniture. The professor passed away on September 10, 1950, in Elizabeth City, North Carolina.

Sources: Harold Graves, “Broadus, Robertson, Davis—Southern Seminary’s Contribution to New Testament Scholarship.” Founder’s Day Address, Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, January 22, 1958.

J. Estill Jones, “William Hersey Davis,” in Encyclopedia of Southern Baptists. 2 Vols. Nashville, TN: Broadman, 1958.

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