A trio of eminent Old Testament scholars—Francis Brown, R. Driver, and Charles Briggs—spent over twenty years researching, writing, and preparing The Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon. Since it first appeared in the early part of the twentieth century, BDB has been considered the finest and most comprehensive Hebrew lexicon available to the English-speaking student. Based upon the classic work of Wilhelm Gesenius, the "father of modern Hebrew lexicography," BDB gives not only dictionary definitions for each word, but relates each word to its Old Testament usage and categorizes its nuances of meaning. BDB's exhaustive coverage of Old Testament Hebrew words, as well as its unparalleled usage of cognate languages and the wealth of background sources consulted and quoted, render BDB and invaluable resource for all students of the Bible.
The Rev. Francis Brown (December 26, 1849 – 1916), American Semitic scholar, was born in Hanover, New Hampshire.
He was the son of Samuel Gilman Brown (1813–1885), president of Hamilton College from 1867 to 1881, and the grandson of Francis Brown, whose removal from the presidency of Dartmouth College and later restoration were incidental to the famous Dartmouth College case.
The younger Francis graduated from Phillips Academy, Andover in 1866, from Dartmouth in 1870 and from the Union Theological Seminary in 1877, and then studied in Berlin. In 1879 he became instructor in biblical philology at the Union Theological Seminary, in 1881 an associate professor of the same subject, and in 1890 Davenport Professor of Hebrew and the cognate Languages.
Brown's published works won him an honorary doctorate of Divinity from the University of Glasgow (1901), and a D.Litt. from the University of Oxford, as well as honorary doctorates from Dartmouth and Yale. The works are, with the exception of The Christian Point of View (1902; with Profs. A. C. McGiffert and G. W. Knox), almost purely linguistic and lexical, and include Assyriology: its Use and Abuse in Old Testament Study (1885), and the important revision of Gesenius' Lexicon, undertaken with S. R. Driver and C. A. Briggs — Brown Driver Briggs, A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament (1891–1905).